Letter to the Editor: Mental Health services for children in Ireland
This letter was published in the Irish Times on Thursday, Jun 29, 2017
Sir, – As the parent of a child with complex developmental needs, I was moved by “Laura’s story”, a mother who tries to convince her 10-year-old son every day that life is worth living (“‘My 10-year-old son wants to be dead. Nobody will help him’”, Health + Family, June 26th).
As a mental health professional, I was left with questions.
Why do we fail to provide a comprehensive, evidence-based and equitable mental health service to children and adolescents? We do not attract, recruit or retain consultant child psychiatrists. We employ multidisciplinary team members after a painstaking and lengthy process, only to fail to provide ongoing training and support. We neglect to provide them access to senior posts in a timely manner and so risk losing them just after they have formed vital relationships with team members and, most importantly, trusting, empathic connections with children and families.
We do not value the role of trained and supervised secretarial and administrative staff, often the first port of call to distressed parents.
Crucially, we cannot staff and provide adequate inpatient and day hospital services.
As a parent I cannot help but wonder what, if any, services has Laura’s son been able to access through his local School Age Disability Team (HSE), his local Community Speech and Language and Occupational Therapy Services (HSE), and the National Educational Psychological Services (Department of Education)?
What, if any, specialist services are available to him as a child with complex developmental needs?
Our failure to provide services for our children with developmental needs places them at an unacceptable risk of developing additional psychological and indeed psychiatric difficulties.
Our children are the adults of tomorrow. Better to support them now than pay for the redress boards later.
Dr Maria Dunne,