Commissioner’s statement following the launch of the Public Accounts Committee Report into Mental Health Services

21 June 2024

The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People attended the launch of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Report into Mental Health Services in Northern Ireland at Stormont yesterday.

The Commissioner, Chris Quinn, said: “We are all aware of the worrying levels and degrees of complexity of mental health in NI. The report identified key Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) issues like a lack of capacity, waiting times, and the need for early interventions.

“What we are seeing here is devastating neglect with regards to young people’s rights to healthcare. I am perplexed as to how and why we have a strategy and action plan without appropriate resources to meet the needs of babies, children and young people.

“It is well documented that more and more children are presenting with complex and often unmet need.

“I am acutely cognisant of the fact that less is spent on mental health services in NI than the rest of the UK. These vital services are underfunded and understaffed – and children and young people are quite simply not getting the care they need.

“The lack of available funding continues to be a major concern of my office. Sufficient, early support to those most in need of support is of utmost importance. I agree with the Committee that the mental health needs of our children will only be adequately addressed through more productive collaboration across government departments.

“When I meet children and young people, their number one concern they share with me is on mental health, the need for support services and the stigma associated with sharing experiences. We have a plan in place and a strategy is agreed – it now needs to be implemented.

“I share the frustration felt by many in the room, particularly by our Mental Health Champion (MHC) about the lack of funding and investment in mental services. It is completely unacceptable, and I will work with the MHC to address these issues.

“I will also continue to highlight the fact that children and young people’s voices and views are not being listened to. It is shameful and entirely unacceptable that our young people are being failed. They deserve so much more.”