“People wait years for mental health care, but as soon as they are seen, they realize that there really is no adequate service, no adequate care.”
A mental health advocate who visited child mental health services 10 years ago has urged problems with the system not to be ignored again.
mma O’Sullivan said the problems highlighted in the Mental Health Commission’s recent report on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) were well known and seemed “stuck in the same cycle”.
Ms O’Sullivan, from Co Cork, was diagnosed with an eating disorder when she was a teenager, which led to her being hospitalized for six months.
She said she had deteriorated to a stage where she was becoming very unwell and has urged young people with mental health issues to speak out.
“I was just not seen as an individual and more of a number, more of a case file,” she told the PA news agency.
Prior to accessing acute services, she also faced delays in referrals and wait times, although she says she doesn’t think the delays were as severe then as they are now.
“I definitely had this initial wait time issue.
“I think what’s a big problem now is that people wait for years to be seen, but once they’re seen it’s just that shock [of realising] that there really isn’t any real service and care – you’ve waited so long and it’s just for free.”
She said she was hospitalized and placed in a locked unit, which both saved her life and left her traumatized.
“It saved my life because I was so sick. But it is not a path to sustainable recovery.
“It’s definitely not an environment for young people – it’s a very traumatizing environment.
“You have your own voice, but you’re not really allowed to have it in a way, so it’s definitely very difficult.”
Political pressure to take action has increased since a report to CAMHS found it to be incoherent, difficult to access and, in some cases, poorly monitored.
Referral acceptance rates varied regionally, from 38 percent to 81 percent, according to the Mental Health Commission report.
It also found that some teams did not monitor children taking antipsychotic medications, most services did not have an IT system to manage appointments and there was no earmarked funding for CAMHS.
This follows a 2022 report on the care of young people in South Kerry CAMHS, which found 240 minors received “unreliable diagnoses, inappropriate prescriptions and poor oversight of treatment”.
A similar review is being conducted at North Kerry CAMHS.
Ms O’Sullivan said one of the most striking things about the report was that the various problems with CAMHS have been known for so long.
“It’s coming out now, and I think it was well known long before that.
“But it’s also scary to say to yourself, ‘OK, it’s coming out now, but what’s going to be done about it? Who’s going to change it or change it or control the quality?’
“You have no voice, you have no one to represent you, so you just fall through a gap.
“I just want to reach people and make them realize that being able to have your own opinion and your own voice can actually transform your recovery.”
She urged people to try to understand what’s going on with CAMHS and “not ignore it this time.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/people-wait-years-for-mental-health-care-but-once-they-do-get-seen-they-realise-theres-actually-no-proper-services-no-proper-care-42328993.html “People wait years for mental health care, but as soon as they are seen, they realize that there really is no adequate service, no adequate care.”