There will be pent-up demand from school children for mental health services when schools reopen this autumn, a committee has heard.
The Oireachtas Covid-19 committee heard that there was a drop in demand for community child and adolescent mental health services and in the number of referrals received during the pandemic.
Dr Brendan Doody, clinical director of CAMHS at the Linn Dara centre in Ballyfermot, told the committee the numbers are expected to increase significantly when young people return to school.
Dr Doody said there will be pent-up demand for mental health services when children return to school in September.
We usually find there is a drop-off in referrals to mental health services during school holidays, however this hasn't been a school holiday as we would have normally experiencedDr Brendan Doody, CAMHS
He said: “With regard to community services, there was a fall off in demand for service and in the number of referrals received, however service providers are expecting the number to increase and increase significantly when young people return to school in the autumn.
“We usually find there is a drop-off in referrals to mental health services during school holidays, however this hasn’t been a school holiday as we would have normally experienced.
“Young people remain under a significant degree of stress and I suppose one would expect there to be a pent-up demand for services, so it is important that services are planning for the expected increase in referrals that will happen after the summer.”
Social Democrats TD Roisin Shortall said it is “disappointing” that the HSE has not proposed any new services to deal with mental health issues in the primary and pre-school age groups.
The HSE’s head of operations for mental health and assistant national director Jim Ryan said while no new services for this age group have been proposed “at the moment”, it is something the HSE needs to look at.