Labour health spokesperson Duncan Smith said it is “unbelievable” and “shocking” to learn that heavy medications are being prescribed to young people without the clinical back up and support that’s required.
Responding to the Mental Health Commission report into issues in CAMHS, Deputy Smith said a root and branch nationwide audit on services must be carried out immediately.
“The report of the Mental Health Commission is stark and deeply troubling,” he said.
“It’s clear that many children and young people are being utterly failed by the system. It’s disgraceful.
“People will be profoundly disturbed to learn that many children have been prescribed psychotropic medication without proper investigation and the adequate level of support that’s needed.
“Considering the power of these drugs, I am shocked and appalled that this is going on under this Government’s watch.
“Unfortunately most mental health problems begin when people are young.
“That’s why early intervention and support is essential if we are to give our young people the best possible start in life.
“To learn the depth and breadth of failings in the CAMHS service is beyond disconcerting.
“As well as the clear failures in the standard and practice of care, I am all too conscious of the waiting lists families face when trying to seek help in the first place.
“Last year over 2,700 children and young people were on waiting lists for CAMHS. This is entirely unacceptable.”
Deputy Smith says the blame lies with successive governments who have failed to properly fund the health service.
“Ultimately, it’s clear that there has been a failure by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to adequately resource our mental health system and early intervention services,” he says.
“There has been no ambition to recruit adequate specialists and move towards a system rooted in community care.
“We know that over 90% of mental health needs can be successfully treated within a Primary Care setting, with less than 10% being referred to specialist community based mental health teams.
“Assessment, prevention and early-intervention is critical to alleviating health issues and taking pressure off stretched CAMHS services.”