40 per cent of calls to Pieta House are from teenagers
Around 40 per cent of queries to Pieta House in Waterford are from young teenagers, with social media and cyber bullying a leading cause for concern, it has emerged.
At the Waterford Chamber of Commerce annual dinner on Friday evening last, Senator Joan Freeman, Pieta House’s founder, spoke about the epidemic of youth suicide, telling the gathering of over 250 local business people that her organisation has experienced a huge rise in contacts from 12 to 16 year olds.
Noting that schools and parents were under great pressure to cope with this, she pointed to the lack of resources for child and adolescent psychiatric services in Waterford as being extremely worrying.
It’s been estimated that mental health services are currently running 22 per cent below recommended levels. In Waterford, funding was recently withdrawn for the Substance Misuse Counselling Service for Adolescents at Squashy Couch, the HSE’s adolescent health project for 14-19 year olds in Waterford city.
The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) at University Hospital Waterford has seen its resources stretched to the limits in recent years, particularly since the closure of St Senan’s Psychiatric Hospital in Wexford in early 2013 and merging of the Waterford and Wexford services at UHW.
Earlier this year, CAMHS vacancies in requisite Non Consultant Hospital Doctor (NCHD and necessary administrative cover for routine clinics resulted in the cancellation of some appointments and closure to new referrals. The service re-opened following a temporary appointment of a NCHD and administration staff. It is currently served by one full time and one part time Consultant, with an average waiting time of 12 weeks for a new referral. A HSE spokesperson said efforts are ongoing to fill the remaining one and a half CAMHS Consultant positions and additional Non Consultant Hospital Doctor (NCHD) approved for the Waterford mental health service.
“There have been difficulties in filling all of these posts, reflecting a national shortage of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Consultants and NCHDs specialising in this sector and this has presented challenges. The issue is being treated as a priority, all the necessary approvals apply and advertisement processes are being utilised.”
Separately, the admission of children to adult psychiatric wards at UHW has been highlighted by the Inspector of Mental Health Services reports, with the Inspector complaining that
children within the southeast catchment area are not well served in terms of access to mental healthcare.