“CAMHS Report must address structural discrimination experienced by Autistic children and young people”

AsIAm, Ireland’s National Autism Charity, welcomes the publication, by the Mental Health Commission, of the Interim Report from the Independent Review of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), and notes with deep concern the Report’s findings. The report highlights major failings in support for young people accessing mental health services including a significant number of cases “lost” in the system. The report identifies insufficient monitoring of patients on medication and failures of governance throughout the system. The report recommends an immediate review of all open cases within the CAMHS system and the immediate regulation of CAMHS under the Mental Health Act, 2001. 

 

Responding to the publication of the report, AsIAm CEO, Adam Harris said: “The findings of Dr Susan Finnerty Interim Report are stark and make for distressing reading for many in our community. Mental health services in many instances are failing young people in crisis and are not just discriminating against autistic people but are also systematically exposing young people to unacceptable risk to their mental and physical health. The findings outlined in this report clearly show a breach of Ireland’s obligations under Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and under Article 15 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We fully endorse the recommendations for an urgent review of all “open” cases and providing the required powers to the Mental Health Commission to effectively regulate such services.” 

 

He added: “However, the report in our opinion has not gone far enough to address the unique systemic discrimination which is faced by Autistic young people across Ireland, as a matter of HSE policy and standard operating procedures.”

 

“There is an urgent need to provide the necessary structural reforms to end this discriminatory practice. Autistic people disproportionately experience mental health challenges, with Autistic children 28 times more likely to consider suicide than non-Autistic children, yet Autistic people are often systematically deprived of any access to timely mental health services.”

AsIAm had previously called upon Minsiter of State Mary Butler over the exclusion of autistic children from the CAHMs medication review in July 2022

“Whilst Autistic people with identified mental health conditions may access CAMHS services, those with undiagnosed or unidentified mental health challenges are declined support by both Disability Services and Mental Health Services, with neither agency meeting the needs of our young people, often until they experience acute crises.” 

“The review, as published today, has failed to understand or meaningfully address the above issues. This is particularly concerning when it is considered that only last July, the HSE attempted to exclude Autistic young people from the HSE CAMHS prescribing review, despite many Autistic young people being prescribed medication without any identified mental health condition or adequate clinical supervision. The term “uncomplicated autism” in the report is deeply seated in a Medical Model and undermines the rights, dignity, identity and unique experiences of every autistic young person. This matter must be addressed comprehensively in the next phase of the review, and this must include meaningful engagement with the Autistic community”.  

 

AsIAm will seek an urgent meeting with the report’s author to further discuss the issues” 

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