The government is “failing to deliver on its commitment to youth mental health,” according to the Alliance for the Rights of the Child in its latest annual report.
The alliance is a coalition of over 80 non-governmental organizations working to secure the rights and needs of children in Ireland.
For the second year in a row, they gave ministers an ‘E’ grade due to the long waiting lists faced by young people in need of support from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
However, the organization says significant progress has been made in the past 12 months on other government commitments to children, such as online safety (grade A), early childhood education and care (B+) and school books free (B).
Children’s Rights Alliance CEO Tanya Ward said the report card was something ministers pay attention to.
“The report card itself is tracking how the Government is delivering on its promises to children,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
Ms Ward said while there was widespread progress in many different areas, the government was struggling with housing.
She said this is contributing to child poverty statistics.
“Because even in the last year, nearly another 30,000 people are in the most serious form of deprivation and poverty,” she said, reports RTE.
In relation to mental health provision, Ms Ward said the government gets an E vote on the report.
She said there is a commitment to end the admission of children to adult psychiatric units, and while there has been a “significant fall in numbers” of children admitted to adult units, 19 last year, it’s “still not good enough,” reports RTE.
She said there should be youth facilities with people trained to work with children and young people.
“But it is concerning that over the same period, what you were seeing is that there’s nearly a doubling of the numbers of children waiting for CAMHS services. We know for those children, what’s happening for them at home is they probably have stopped going to school, they’ve probably stopped engaging with their friends, they may be self-harming, they could have an eating disorder, could be deteriorating. We know that mental health issues, they start in childhood and your teenage years and if you don’t intervene in that period, it’s something you could be dealing with for the rest of your life,” she said, reports RTE.
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