Among the over 70 patients in Kerry represented by Coleman Legal who have been affected by alleged failings at South Kerry Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is a boy who twice attempted to take his own life, the first time when he was aged only nine.
The boy’s mother received a face-to-face apology from the HSE in October following an internal review into alleged prescribing of excessive amounts of medication which examined the files of more than 1,500 patients. She described the apology as a meaningless “PR exercise” and is among more than 50 families now taking legal action over the issue. She said she hopes that compensation might pay for therapy for her son. She criticised the decision to provide him with anti-psychotic medication instead of talk therapy, saying that while she eventually took him off the medication it had a “lasting” negative impact on her son. She said the medication had significantly exacerbated his anxiety as well as making him “indifferent to everything”.
David (not his real name) was bullied when he moved to a new school in south Kerry aged eight. He was recommended art therapy and it was found that he had ADHD. He then began to express suicidal ideation during art therapy sessions as well as at home. In July 2019, he was interviewed by a psychiatrist at South Kerry CAMHS, who shortly thereafter prescribed three different medications, two for ADHD and one to help him sleep. Within weeks, David’s mother formed the view that the drugs were actually making her son’s problems worse. She said his anxiety was worse and that his teachers told her he was still unable to concentrate at school. She eventually secured a meeting with David’s doctor, who she said took him off one of the ADHD medications and put him on a very strong antipsychotic medication.
Weeks later, in March 2020, David’s mother, concerned at the quality of treatment he was receiving, took him off all his medication. She said that, at an appointment with a new psychiatrist at South Kerry CAMHS, she was told that the previous doctor had prescribed far too much medication. David, now 11, continues to struggle with mental health issues and made another attempt on his life in October.
Keith Rolls (Partner at Coleman Legal) told the Sunday Independent: “While apologies are welcome, the true extent of the wrongs committed against the CAMHS patients and their families has yet to be fully disclosed. We are aware from media reports that the HSE is due to publish the findings of their own investigation into this matter within a very short space of time.”