‘They left me in bits,’ says mother of child suffering high-risk mental distress on Camhs care


However, even then, seven in 10 families believe their child with suicidal thoughts or intentions did not receive adequate support, according to a new report.

Delays of months or even two years can lead to deeper and deeper crises: four out of 10 children on the waiting list end up in an emergency department, while other families have to resort to asking for support through their TD or going to the media.

The extent of the struggle many families face to access the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (Camhs) is laid bare in a heartbreaking report today.

This emerges from a national survey of 736 parents, whose children may in some cases be suicidal, while using the service that is stretched thin.

The Camhs Families for Reform survey, which has grown to 1,200 members, reveals heartbreaking testimonies from parents.

One parent said: “I didn’t see him until he self-harmed. And suicide attempt.”

Another said: “Ninety-two percent of children’s mental health deteriorates just during the referral process; early intervention is not a reality.”

For another father, the situation escalated and “in the end they took his case because we ended up in the ER in a total crisis.”

A comment from another parent said, “He was discharged literally the day after returning home from two days in the hospital after taking an overdose.”

Hannah Ní Ghiolla Mhairtín, one of the group’s founders, said: “We haven’t seen any real reform. Politics does not reflect reality. And children continue to suffer as a result. “There are difficulties at every stage of the process.”

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The report shows how families who cannot afford private care to prevent their child deteriorating on the waiting list are particularly disadvantaged.

He found “huge barriers” to private support, with a minimum cost of €700 for a psychiatric evaluation plus €150 for follow-up appointments.

Figures show financial strain is worsening as a third of all families have a parent or guardian who has to leave work to care for their sick child. Some also travel abroad.

They can be left with nowhere to turn as children with “complex needs” such as an intellectual disability are not accepted, even if their parents offer to pay.

The parents said that “finally getting a foot in the door at Camhs does not mean they will be allowed to stay.”

Eight percent were discharged at the first appointment, and for others, they were seen just three times before care ended, often before parents thought they were ready or because the child didn’t want to. take the medication. Seven out of 10 children stayed in the service longer.

One mother said that her experience as a parent of a child using the service “left me in pieces and [Camhs] “I just didn’t consider my son to be high risk.”

The report said: “Another 10-year-old girl was discharged because she was depressed, with severe anxiety, school avoidance and suicidal ideation.”

It highlights how children with additional needs are further hindered, including those with autism. Of those surveyed, 70 per cent said being autistic negatively impacted their child’s access to Camhs and the mental health supports offered. And 54% believed it was used to try to discharge the child.

  Mental-health check

Camhs takes longer to accept a referral for an autistic child and they are more likely to end up in an emergency department.

Forty-two percent reported that Camhs rejected their autistic child when they experienced suicidal ideation or intent, compared to 18 percent of non-autistic children. About 73 percent of parents of children with attention deficit disorder were dissatisfied with the service.

About 23 per cent of families whose child has an intellectual disability had access to Camhs, but 77 per cent did not. They are also likely to be discharged early. Among parents whose children had an eating disorder, only 23 percent had access to a specialist team or a member of the specialist team.

Parents also recognized the strain on staff and identified people who listened and showed empathy.

In response, a HSE spokesperson said: “We are sorry for the young people and families who have had a bad experience trying to access services.”

He said the HSE has made Camhs and improving youth mental health services a priority in recent years. The HSE’s Children and Young People’s Mental Health Office (CYMHO) was established last October and a key aim is to improve access and tackle waiting lists.

It is developing a single point of access for all referrals overseen by a centralized triage committee to direct the child to the most appropriate service.

If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this article, please call Samaritans free of charge on 116 123 or email [email protected]; or call Pieta on freephone 1800 247 247 or text HELP to 51444. You can also call Aware on freephone 1800 80 48 48 or visit conscious.ie

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