Service levels for Youth Mental Health in Laois/ Offaly must be maintained, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Laois Offaly Deputy, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, said: “I was dismayed to learn of plans to reduce the staffing levels in the Young Adult Mental Health Service (YAMHS) in Offaly and Laois.
“This service is specifically targeted at those between 16 and 18 and has a fully functioning team and no waiting lists. I was disappointed to learn during my visit that, at a time when the Government’s stated objective is to prioritise mental health services and increase the resources for youth mental health services, the HSE management team is planning to cut three full-time equivalent posts in the YAMHS.
“This means that one psychotherapist position, two nursing posts and an administrator are due to be cut by the HSE. This proposal flies in the face of a cross-sectoral commitment to improving mental health services for children and young adults.
“What plans has the HSE to deal with the young people from 16 to 18 who may be referred over the next five years? Reducing the staffing levels in the YAMHS is just going to place increased pressure on the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), which is trying to manage significant waiting lists in Offaly and Laois.
“Is it intended to put those patients back into the CAMHS where there are existing waiting lists? How will emergency cases be dealt with?
“It is outrageous that the HSE is using the excuse of staffing recommendations outlined in the ‘Vision for Change’ mental health policy framework published in 2006. This document is out of date and is currently being reviewed.
“When it was published our young adults did not have the internet and social media to deal with so those staffing figures are also out of date.
“We are all aware of the vital importance of access to services and treatment in a timely manner for young people who find themselves distressed or in an emergency.
“I know from my dealings with local families who have engaged with the YAMHS in Offaly and Laois, that they are highly complementary of the quality of the service and the dedication and commitment of the multidisciplinary teams working there.
“I just cannot accept this diminution in the service when the Government is increasing budgets to the mental health services every year and, crucially, when the demand for the service is also increasing. That staffing levels are above the national average, that there are no waiting lists at this point and that the services are dealing with the emergencies as they come to them point to the success of the YAMHS team.
“YAHMS is a model that other areas should be replicating,” Corcoran Kennedy said.
“This service is working. There are still far too many young people dying by suicide across this country, especially young men, so we have a duty to maintain and expand our mental health services in the years ahead.
“The services that are succeeding and capable of delivering to young people and young adults should be maintained, not reduced,” the Fine Gael TD said.