New figures reveal that children and adolescents in Galway are waiting up to eight weeks for mental health services - twice the stated HSE target, a situation one local councillor has called "the most worrying parts of the crisis gripping the health service".
The figures were released by the HSE to Sinn Féin health spokesperson Louise O'Reilly TD, and reveal there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service for young people in the State. As a result, in Galway at present there is a waiting time of eight weeks, or 40 working days, for mental health services, twice the four week target that has been set.
Reacting to the figures, Sinn Féin Galway City East councillor Mairéad Farrell, said: "These figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care, they are in all likelihood going to be faced with an extended waiting period which puts them and their mental health at a very serious risk. Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future."
While demand for the Jigsaw service has grown, Cllr Farrell pointed out that the provision of resources had not kept pace through a combination of shortages in funding, "neglect of the services" by Government, and "the pervading recruitment and retention crisis in the health service".
“We know that when CAMHS and Jigsaw are able to assess and care for young people they do an excellent job with often extremely good results," she said. “We need to see dedicated action in the area of mental health to attract new staff, to keep the excellent staff we have, to reopen closed beds, and to reduce waiting times. This is quite literally lifesaving treatment and it is currently not readily available for those that need it."