The waiting times for getting into the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are disgraceful, Sinn Féin Deputy Kathleen Funchion told the Dáil.
“There is nothing we can say about that only that we need to recruit more staff so that there are not waiting times,” she said.
“I want to talk about when a person first realises that their child potentially has a mental health difficulty. It could be the parent who notices or it could be a teacher who brings this to the parent's attention.
"It is a difficult thing to deal with. No matter what is said and no matter how often it is said it is okay not to be okay, a parent still feels he or she is still failing a child if he or she has to access CAMHS. There is no point saying anything else about that.”
Deputy Funchion said she finds it an extremely faceless service. It is all paperwork.
“The bunch of forms are asking questions at a time when it is hard to process what is going on and what the difficulties might be,” she said.
“People have 14 days to return the forms. Then a whole load of information about drop-in and walk-in clinics is sent out. It states that if a parent is concerned for a child, he or she can drop into this or that clinic. Of course, the parent is concerned for his or her child. That is why he or she is accessing CAMHS in the first place. Much of the information is difficult to digest and it has to be dealt with at an already difficult time in the lives of parents and children.”
Many people at that point just cannot cope with it and do not know where to go or what to do with the information, she said.
It would be far better if there was a phone service or a face-to- face service where people could go in and speak to someone who could assist with the forms.
“A parent is not a mental health expert and cannot say what category a child falls into,” she said. “That is really important because we need to have it as an accessible service at the very start.”
Call for urgent action on increases in commercial rates
The dramatic increase in commercial rates is crippling SMEs across the country, Fianna Fáil Deputy Bobby Aylward told the Dáil.
“Our small independent businesses are the backbone of the economy and we need to encourage SMEs to grow and expand in order to create jobs, especially in the regions,” he said.
“We must take urgent action on this issue. The Minister (Eoghan Murphy) recently stated to me in the Dáil that the Commercial Rates Bill is currently being drafted. What is the status of this legislation, given we need to get it published as soon as possible?”
Fianna Fáil, he said, previously introduced a Bill in the Dáil proposing that the level of increase being levelled on an individual business be capped.
“We also proposed that any increase should be allowed to be staggered over a five-year period at the discretion of the local authority.
"This would mean an increase is limited and spread over time, rather than the current process involving a single increase.”
In response, the Minister for Housing, Planning & Local Government said on the valuation process, as this happened in his own local authority area, he knew there are, generally speaking, more winners than losers when this occurs in terms of people seeing their rateable valuation decrease rather than increase.
“In some local authority areas, as the Deputy knows, this work has not been done in a very long time and it is a question of ensuring that there is fairness across the system in order some people are not carrying a historic burden in meeting the rates needs of local authorities. ”