Over 4,000 children waiting over a year for psychology treatment

by Rachel Darcy

There are almost 10,500 people in Ireland currently waiting to access psychology treatment in Ireland, with more than 4,000 of those children.

High waiting lists for psychology treatment mean that individuals requiring an appointment could be waiting over a year to access services.

Almost 9,000 of those waiting on treatment are children, with over 4,800 children aged between 0 and 17 waiting over a year for an appointment.

Across Dublin, there are nearly 2,800 individuals across all age groups waiting more than a year for an appointment, with 2,756 people aged from 0 to 65+ waiting more than 12 months to be seen.

This figure is the highest amongst 5 to 17-year-olds in CH09, which includes Dublin North, Dublin North Central and Dublin North West. There are 1,149 children waiting more than a year for an appointment in this area.

This age group has the highest waiting lists for psychology treatment nationally.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, has said that the high waiting lists for treatment are “completely unacceptable”.

Teachta Ward was speaking after a response to his parliamentary question stated that over 10,000 patients are currently waiting for psychology treatment.

The Dublin Mid-West TD said: “I was both shocked and saddened to receive a response to a parliamentary question that stated that over 10,000 people are waiting on psychology treatment.

“Nearly 9,000 of those waiting on treatment are children, with more than 4,000 children waiting over a year for an appointment with a psychologist.

“This is unacceptable. Early intervention is key to a child’s development and children are missing out on lost opportunities because of they cannot access the treatment they need.

“These lengthy waits are not only completely unacceptable from a medical point of view, they are causing enormous stress and anxiety to the children and families stuck on endless lists.

“The waiting times vary significantly depending on what area of the country is looked at.

“In CH07, which includes my own areas of Clondalkin, Lucan and Palmerstown, there was 935 [children in the 5 to 17-year-old group] waiting over a year for an appointment.

“We need to move away from postcode politics and have a uniformed approach. Treatment should be based on need and not where you are living.

“In the response I received, the HSE seem to be using Covid as an excuse for the delays in treatment, but these delays were happening years before Covid reached our shores.

“These waiting lists are as a result of years of underinvestment and priority in the provision of mental health services by successive Governments.

“There seems to be a persistent crisis in the provision of mental health services across the country.

“The government and the HSE have a duty to do better by these children. 

“It is vital that real efforts are made to address these waiting lists. Such deficits in mental health services for children cannot be allowed to continue.

“The Government needs to stop playing the old fashioned three card trick, where children are moved from list to list without receiving this essential treatment.”

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