I welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter with the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath. No disrespect to him, but I was hoping to discuss it with the Minister of State who has responsibility in this area, Deputy Jim Daly, because I met him before Christmas and he knows how pressing and difficult the issue is. Nevertheless, I will use this opportunity to discuss it, in the hope the Minister of State, Deputy McGrath, will bring back the message and perhaps schedule a follow-up meeting for me with the Minister of State, Deputy Daly, after this discussion today.
We have a lack of mental health services in Kildare and I will focus on the constituency of Kildare North, in particular the areas of Celbridge, Leixlip, Maynooth, Kilcock, Clane and Naas, which have a population of approximately 120,000 people. The real issue is that services are not available on the ground. I will give three brief examples of this, before I discuss a possible solution I am trying to pursue with the Minister, Deputy Harris, and the Minister of State, Deputy Daly.
The post of primary care child psychologist in Kildare was left vacant for more than two years and the appointment was made only last year. When we balance this with how serious mental health issues are we must ask ourselves why such a critical appointment takes so long.
Last year in Clane, an area very close to me, a 15 year old minor, who was on suicide watch, was taken into the care of the State but allowed to go from A to B unattended. As a result he went missing twice, on one occasion for up to five days. This was despite the fact gardaí were out looking for him. When he was returned to the care of the State it was allowed to happen again. This is a serious issue and it is a major concern. As I stated, he was on suicide watch. Another issue arose with a young individual who was affected by a brain injury. He received treatment and care but was discharged without any follow-up treatment or care. As a result, he was badly affected in September and October when he was sleeping rough, walking the streets and could not be found. He was not at home. Eventually, through the voluntary organisation which I will discuss later, we got him back into follow-up treatment and services. Another individual reported to the public health service over Christmas for mental health services. He was told in Celbridge that no services were available, that he could not be helped and that nothing could be done for him. Eventually we got him seen and put him in contact with Pieta House.
This is what is happening on the ground, despite all of the delivery and funding announced and despite all of the positive news coming from the other side of the House about these services. They are not being delivered. These are three brief examples because I am conscious of my time.
In Celbridge, a voluntary group has been operating for the past ten years. It provides counselling and dual diagnosis. It has more than 40 cases on its books. It operates purely from bucket collections and cake sales. I have met HSE senior officials in the past 15 months. I have met the Minister, Deputy Harris, the Minister of State, Deputy Daly, and his predecessor to try to get public support for the organisation and finances to help it. To date it has received absolutely nothing.
It is acknowledged that this is a good partnership approach. Where an organisation works with professionally qualified people, providing a service that is not being provided by the State, the State should partner it and support it, once it operates in a coherent and proper manner, which this organisation does. It has gone through the task force and it has engaged with senior officials in the HSE. The paperwork is done and all the boxes have been ticked.
It is disappointing the services are not being delivered through the public health service and that the agency working on a voluntary basis, despite all my efforts, still does not receive support.