Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said remarks by the Tánaiste Joan Burton concerning the state of the mental health infrastructure for children and young adolescents in Ireland betray her total lack of awareness surrounding the crisis that currently exists. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Tánaiste claimed during Leaders Questions that Ireland had ‘world class’ services available to deal with troubled children and adolescents who were experiencing mental health challenges:
“The characterisation by the Tánaiste regarding the current level of services in Ireland is not only deeply worrying but it is also profoundly insulting to the many families out there who have to witness their children being assigned to adult mental health facilities.
There is no one who can say that we have arrived at the stage of having world class services in this area.
We are still waiting for the recruitment processes to the mental health services which were outlined last year to take place. We still have no guarantee that the mental health budget will be ring fenced and not further reduced by another 15 million like it was last year under then Minister Kathleen Lynch. Is this what the leader of the Labour Party means by world class service?
The reality, as many advocacy groups will testify, is that children continue to face unacceptably long waiting lists for mental health services, inconsistent service provision across the country, and responses that do not meet their needs. There is also an awareness that a lack of focus on early intervention that could prevent future problems is still occurring and that most disturbingly of all, children continue to be treated in adult in-patient mental health units.
The Director of Mental Health Reform has already said that there continues to be grave problems around the different agencies working with these young people to comprehensively and effectively work together. For the Tánaiste to make these remarks during Mental Health Week is a betrayal of the struggle which so many children and their families are undergoing,” concluded Deputy McGrath.