Two Donegal TDs have called for cross-party support for their party’s proposals to ensure mental health services for children and young people in Donegal are properly resourced, fully staffed and provide support when and where they are needed.
The call was made by Sinn Féin TDs for Donegal, Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and Deputy Pearse Doherty.
The proposals, introduced by Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, and spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, will be debated in the Dáil this evening.
Deputy Doherty said “The government needs to act to ensure that we have services that are fit for purpose for our children and young people. The current services are not, and there are serious concerns and risks for patients currently accessing CAMHS.
“The government have failed to act to ensure that we have mental health services that are fit for purpose for our children and young people. Sinn Féin wants to offer solutions.
“We are calling for multi-annual funding for CAMHS to be able to operate and forward-plan, to be able to properly staff teams, and we are calling for an integrated IT system to improve quality of care.
“Early intervention is key. Children and young people must have access to mental health services when and where they need them.
“The majority of acute long-term mental health difficulties develop between the ages of 16 and 25. Therefore, services should be extended to 25 to prevent ‘cliff edge’ of 18.
The Deputies said they want accountability and so are calling for a national clinical director for mental health, a role that was removed in 2016.
Deputy Doherty added “We must also introduce national standards for monitoring antipsychotic medication.
“We must develop a joined-up and comprehensive health and social care workforce strategy to increase education places and training opportunities.
“We must increase undergraduate and post-graduate courses and training places for mental health professions based on evidence for required staffing levels and projected population needs to reduce reliance on overtime and international recruitment.”
Deputy MacLochlainn added added that his party wants to empower CAMHS to be able to respond to issues raised in the Mental Health Commission’s interim report.
“The report did not come as a shock to any family in Donegal who has experience accessing CAMHS. They know too well that this government has been failing young people.
“We have outlined the key steps needed to ensure that CAMHS is reformed to give patients the high-quality and timely care they need.
“The immediate priority is to locate all the children who have been lost to follow up and to ensure that they have the appropriate mental health supports in place.
“Sinn Féin in government would prioritise delivering change in our healthcare system so that mental health services are fit for purpose,” he said.