Children’s ombudsman Niall Muldoon expressed “absolute shock and horror” at the report into children’s mental health services in Kerry.
CAMHS has been notoriously bad at bringing people to meet them, he told Newstalk Breakfast. There were waiting lists of up to two years for children “who really need these services.
“These families were so disappointed. There must be a fear out there about going into any CAMHS service that is going to do a huge disservice to children and young people.
“There is a real sense of shame and a lack of confidence in this. Nationally, this shows that we need to look at our individual CAMHS services. There are 72 across the country, there should be over 100, so obviously we are severely understaffed and under-resourced, we have also under-invested in children’s mental health.
Mr Muldoon added that he had been struck by the lack of governance and support for the service and that individuals had not been held accountable.
“There was no case management, there was no data protection, there were no shared clinical logs, so it really seemed like a free-for-all in terms of individuals taking the rules and ignoring the rules.”
Meanwhile, Kerry GP Dr Gary Stack has warned a “tsunami of trouble” has been postponed due to gaps in children’s mental health services in the county.
“We are seeing it in schools that the lockdown has had a major effect on a very small subset of children, but it has had a major effect on them – it’s a tsunami of issues that have been carried over. “The psychological aspect has not been addressed either,” he told Morning Ireland on RTÉ radio.
Dr Stack said GPs in the county would have been aware of the difficulties in accessing CAMHS and often referrals were not accepted. He added that “it would be the biggest problem” when patients were not seen by a psychiatric team, and often the only option was to refer the patient to an emergency department.
There were no beds available in Kerry for a suicidal child, he said.
The existing problems faced by the children and their parents have been exacerbated by what happened with CAMHS. An existing problem was added and additional damage was done in some cases, he said. But the underlying problem remained.
There had been very little support for the physician involved and a thorough review of supports in high stress environments was needed.
General practitioners did not have the specialized training to assess and prescribe drugs for these cases. This was a very specialized area for which psychiatric support was also needed.
“It’s a major problem,” he said.