More than 7,600 children referred to the HSE psychiatric service turned away last year

More than 7,600 children referred by GPs to the HSE’s Child and Adolescent Health Service (CAMHS) last year were turned away for failing to meet strict eligibility criteria.

In the first four months of this year, 3,003 children and young people were deemed unfit for service, figures show.

The data was announced amid ongoing concerns about the service’s ability to meet the demand from children and young people with a range of mental health needs.

The figures – released by the HSE to Sinn Féin TD Mark Ward – show how children can fall into a trap
GPs strive to secure specialist care amid long waiting lists
for Psychiatry and Disabled Aid.

In response, HSE mental health services general manager Tony McCusker said the CAMHS operational policies aim to ensure that the deployment of mental health teams is carried out in a consistent and transparent manner nationally.

“A number of factors are considered when deciding whether a child or young person needs to attend CAMHS,” he said. “These include consideration of the child’s or adolescent’s clinical presentation, the level of social and family support, and the availability of resources and treatment options at the primary care level or within community networks.

“It is the role of the CAMHS team to decide whether the child or young person meets the community CAMHS threshold – whether their mental disorder is moderate to severe.

“Types of referrals accepted in CAMHS with moderate to severe mental disorders are often described on a continuum of severity ranging from mild to moderate to severe.

“A number of factors are considered when determining whether someone has a moderate to severe mental disorder.”

In practice, the term “moderate to severe” means that the mental disorder is severe enough to cause significant distress to the child, their family, or others.

“The child or young person would have significant functional impairment in various aspects of their life, including development, family relationships, school, peers, self-care, and play or leisure activities,” McCusker said.

“It’s also important to note that not all children and adolescents fit exactly into one diagnostic category.”

He said types of referrals not appropriate for children or adolescents are where “their difficulties are related to learning problems, social problems, behavioral problems, or mild to moderate mental health problems.”

“There are many services available to respond to these issues for children and young people, such as HSE Primary Care Services, HSE Disability Services, Tusla, Jigsaw, National Educational Psychology Services and local family resource centers,” McCusker said.

However, there are already waiting lists for these services.

He said CAMHS does not accept children who have no evidence of a moderate to severe mental disorder.

Children with an intellectual disability should be referred to HSE Social Welfare and HSE Disability Services for diagnosis and treatment of intellectual disability.

However, children or adolescents with a mild intellectual disability with moderate to severe mental disorder are appropriate to be evaluated by CAMHS, he said.

Those who need assessments or interventions related to educational needs should be referred to Children’s Network Disability Teams or the National Educational Psychology Service, McCusker said. More than 7,600 children referred to the HSE psychiatric service turned away last year

Fry Electronics Team

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