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23/10/2021

Longford Leader editorial: Mental health waiting lists are an utter shame

The waiting lists for specialist mental health services are an utter national disgrace.

There has been a surge in the numbers who have been waiting on child and adolescent mental health service for more than a 12 month period.

That means that there are several hundred young people across the country, some teenagers and some even younger children, who may have gone through unimaginable trauma in their lives but who cannot access vital help in their hour of need.

These young people may suffer from lifelong stress, anxiety and lasting damage as a result of not having been able to access timely mental health intervention when it was first required.

Apart from the personal cost to these children and their families, there will most likely be longer term and higher costs to the Health Service when their problems, inadequately treated, present again later in life.

Surely investment in critical mental health services for young people is as vital as investing in good education and healthy eating and sporting initiatives.

Schools, sports clubs and other youth organisations are being told to spread the message that ‘it’s good to talk’ and that young people should not hold back from sharing their feelings.

But what about when their problems run deeper and specialist intervention is needed?

Then who is listening?

Because from the alarming statistics revealed last week, it is apparent that for a lot of children with mental health needs, nobody is in a position to really assist them.

Ireland’s health service has shocked us all with repeated recent revelations about inadequacies in the care offered to Irish citizens.

When we can’t provide adequate mental health care for distressed children, it is yet another shame.

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