“We are failing children with mental health issues” – Ombudsman for Children

Dr Niall Muldoon spoke of the need to put children first

Written by Oisín McKenna


The Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, has strongly criticised the provision of mental health services for children in Ireland. Speaking before the Seanad Consultation Committee on Children’s Mental Health Services, Dr Muldoon stressed the need to transform the provision of mental health services so that they put children’s needs first and foremost.

He said: “At the moment the mental health services a child receives very much depends on what the system can offer, rather than what the child needs. The child must make do with what is available”.

He also noted that inconsistency in services across the country “The services children receive depend on the area where they live, the primary care supports available there, whether or not there is a psychiatrist working in the area and a range of other factors. The last thing on the list seems to be the child, and their individual and immediate needs. The children do all the adapting and compromising because the system never will. That must change.”

Who provides mental health services for children in Ireland?

Mental health services for children in Ireland are provided by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). CAMHS is for people up to the age of 18 with moderate to severe mental health difficulties. You can find out more about CAMHS here.

Currently, CAMHS struggles to meet the needs of its service users. Over 80 staff posts in CAMHS across the country have not been filled, including consultant psychiatrist, psychologist and clinical nurses specialist posts. Earlier this week, it was reported that there are currently 2,419 children and young people on the waiting list for CAMHS. 218 of these have been waiting for more than a year.

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