Recent figures from the Belfast health trust have revealed that 557 young people are currently waiting on referrals for mental health services.
Sinn Féin MLA Órlaithí Flynn said the issue is “deeply concerning” and that the “numbers of children on waiting and referral lists numbers are spiralling out of control”.
“Children’s mental health services and staff provide invaluable support to children and young people in emotional distress and with a range of mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and eating disorders,” said the party’s spokesperson for mental health.
“However, the demand for support and treatment is rapidly outstripping capacity.”
Ms Flynn urged that an Executive “be formed immediately” to tackle waiting lists, recruit more doctors and nurses, fund cancer and mental services and transform health.
She said that her party colleague and finance minister Conor Murphy “is committed to allocating an additional £1 billion to our Health Service over the next three years”.
A recent survey by the Open University has suggested that two-thirds of young people are worried about health and wellbeing in Northern Ireland.
Even more are concerned that the cost of living crisis will impact their futures.
Some 67% of young people surveyed consider health and wellbeing as the top societal challenge facing Northern Ireland – 59% said sustainability and the environment and 56% said inequality in opportunity.
Both the Department of Health and Belfast trust have been contacted for comment.