This is truly heartbreaking.

The number of children waiting for an appointment with the Child and Adult Mental Health Services, or CAMHS, rose by more than a quarter between October last year and February 2022.

CAMHS is a specialist clinical service for people under 18 with moderate to severe mental health difficulties.

Meaning that as per today, an astonishing 3,914 children are currently waiting for an appointment with the service, which is an increase of 849 since October last year.

These grim stats are according to figures from the Health Service Executive, and the HSE themselves say the increases are attributed to a rise in referrals, staffing and retention issues and challenges in recruiting.

In a statement to RTÉ, the HSE says that every effort is made to prioritise urgent referrals so that young people with high-risk presentations are seen as soon as possible and that this is often within 24 to 48 hours.

Staffing problems

Across the country, there are 73 CAMHS Community Mental Health Teams,  and all teams screen the referrals received.

As of February this year, the HSE say that 3,914 children were on the CAMHS waiting list, with 1,808 of those are waiting less than 12 weeks for an appointment, while 9 percent – or 321 children – are waiting longer than 12 months to see someone in the country’s mental health service.

The problems seem to be worse in the Cork and Kerry region, with 34 percent of those waiting based in Cork Kerry Community Healthcare and in Midlands Louth Meath Community Health Organisation.

The HSE state that they acknowledge that part of the problem is down to staff recruitment and retention issues, and at the end of last year, there were just  77.7 consultant psychiatrists across the 73 CAMHS teams.