Waiting times for youth mental health appointments are ‘worrying’, says TD WardGary Ibbotson 22 Jun 2022
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health Mark Ward TD has said increases in waiting times for the Jigsaw youth mental health service are worrying.
Deputy Ward was speaking after figures released by the HSE a following a parliamentary question tabled by him.
He says that waiting times for an appointment with Jigsaw are currently up to 18 weeks, with some areas seeing an 700% increase in the length of waiting times.
Ward called on the Government to “urgently engage” with the service to provide a solution.
“Figures released to me by the HSE through a parliamentary question have shown there are significant wait times for first appointments with Jigsaw,” Deputy Ward says.
“Demand for the Jigsaw service in my area of Dublin South West and across the State continues to grow.
“As a result, youths are waiting up to 19 weeks to get an appointment, with young people from Dublin South West currently waiting 16 weeks,” he says.
Overall, there are 2016 children waiting for a first appointment across the country – with 272 of these from Dublin South West.
“There has been an 88% increase in the length of waiting times in Dublin South West,” Ward says.
“In 2021 it was a 9-week waiting time for a first appointment but that has increased to 17 weeks.
“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.
“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk.
“Jigsaw has experienced a 25% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears.
“This increase in waiting time is most notable in Galway.
“In 2019 Galway had a two week waiting time for a first appointment, it currently stands at 16 weeks, which is a staggering 700 % increase in the length of time vulnerable children are left waiting on a vital service.
“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.
“We need to move away from the postcode lottery for mental health treatment.
“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution.”
The average wait time for appointments in Dublin has increased steadily between 2019 and 2022.
In Dublin 15 and in the inner city, the wait time was six weeks in 2019, that figure has increased to 11 weeks and 16 weeks respectively.
Paul Donnelly, TD for Dublin West said that “behind every number is a young person who needs help and should have access to services in a timely way. This cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears.”
Overall, there are 582 children currently waiting on appointments in Dublin.