Mental Health Reform, the national coalition on mental health, is today reacting with concern to the closure of 11 inpatient beds in the Linn Dara Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Unit (CAMHS) at Cherry Orchard Hospital in Dublin. Róisín Clarke, Interim CEO, Mental Health Reform said: “We are deeply concerned by the closure of 11 beds in Linn Dara.
The reduction in beds will mean that children and young people with complex mental health difficulties will face increasing challenges in accessing appropriate mental health care. There is a risk that children may end up being admitted to an adult unit for mental health treatment, which is in contravention of their human rights. This is an extremely inappropriate environment for a child or young person in distress.
It is deeply troubling that the beds would be allowed to close in light of the ongoing crisis in the provision of CAMHS services nationally. In February 2022, 3,914 children were on a waiting list for CAMHS which represented over a 40% increase from the previous year. 321 of these children were waiting longer than 12 months to be seen.
Long delays for mental health treatment can have a devastating effect on families and children who are in need of early intervention and support. Given the important developmental stages that children and young people go through, this is a crucial time in their personal, emotional and psychological development which is impacted by the lack of services available to them.
Leadership and accountability are critical to addressing the recruitment and retention challenges in our mental health services. Mental Health Reform is calling for the reinstatement of a National Director for Mental Health in the HSE who would report directly to Paul Reid, CEO, HSE. This post is essential to ensuring oversight and leadership in the improvement of mental health services across Ireland.
We believe the staffing issues cannot be addressed by the Department of Health and the HSE alone. The Government must ensure a cross-department response to identify solutions and encourage the recruitment and retention of staff across the mental health services. The Government must take urgent action to address the inadequacies in CAMHS so that all children and young people can access the mental health care they need.