THE father of a schoolgirl who took her own life after being bullied online is not surprised that mental health services are close to breaking point.
Jonathan Pugsley was commenting after the head of mental health services at the Health Service Executive, Martin Rogan, warned that the overstretched service is close to snapping.
Over 2,000 children and teenagers are on waiting lists for appointments and referrals to the service rose by 17pc last year.
Mr Pugsley's daughter Ciara (15) from Killargue, Co Leitrim, was found dead in woodlands near her home last September after being bullied online.
He said his daughter was "struggling" at one point and had to wait a long time for help from counsellors.
"If people don't listen to Martin Rogan, who will they listen to?" he said.
"We seem to be spending a lot of time and money on things for the boys and not looking after the grassroots."
He said it was crucial that the strains on mental health services were relieved, particularly in the wake of the recent suicide of Junior Minister Shane McEntee.
Meanwhile, a trade union representing psychiatric nurses said it had highlighted the emerging crisis but recruitment of extra staff had been delayed.
General Secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses Association, Des Kavanagh, said 1,500 nurses have left mental health services in the last two to three years.
He said funding for services is now little over 4pc of the health budget, although a policy document said it should be over 8pc.
He said Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch must police a €35m fund for mental health that was recently announced to ensure it is used to replenish lost nursing posts.