Monday 20 May 2019

Lack of mental health services for children to be highlighted with peaceful protest

Simon Bourke

The chronic lack of mental health services for children in Wexford is to be highlighted with a public march at the beginning of next month.

With some children being admitted to adult wards, and others travelling the length and breadth of the country to receive appropriate support, Wexford Mental Health Warriors (WMHW) is hosting a peaceful protest on May 4 in Redmond Square at 12 p.m.

'There's a three-year waiting list to get a child assessed in Wexford,' said a spokesperson for the group. 'To put it into perspective, it takes 33 times longer to see a Speech and Language Therapist here than it does in County Clare.'

Documenting their own experiences with local services, the spokesperson, who has two children with autism, recalled an occasion where, having travelled all the way to Cork to receive treatment for their child, they were told to go straight back to Wexford.

'I got as far as A and E and got told to bring my child home, back to Wexford Hospital. but there's nothing in Wexford for children. There's only one psychiatric nurse in Wexford Hospital and she works Monday to Friday only. We're seeing children admitted into wards where the other kids are there just to get their appendix out. There's hundreds of families going through the same thing; horrendous stories, children cutting themselves, left in A and E from Friday to Monday until the psychiatric nurse comes in; that's happening every weekend in Wexford Hospital.'

Yet despite the gravity of the situation and the heartbreak of seeing their children suffer, those behind the march are determined to ensure it is a peaceful gathering, one 'about kids, for kids.'

'We'll have face-painting, hand puppets, that kind of thing. It's not about shouting down the government, or politicans, or TDs, we're not into name-calling or anything like that. This is solely about highlighting the lack of services.'

Those services currently amount to a handful of staff at Slaney House, a situation made worse by the resignation of the unit's only full-time psychologist Dr Kieran Moore last July.

And with 1300 people on the waiting list for appointments in the county, the spokesperson for WMHW is understandably sceptical regarding the HSE's announcement that a new member of staff has been assigned to the facility.

'By the time this new member of staff gets through the backlog that's already there it'll be three years. We know more about Slaney House than the staff do, there's no communication between HSE management and those in Wexford. Without the nurses, and their overtime there'd be no services at all here. We'd have nothing without them.'

Gorey Guardian