Press release

First National Lead appointed to head New Office for Child and Youth Mental Health

Published: 10 October 2023

Updated: 29 January 2024

  • Donan Kelly appointed National Lead for HSE Child and Youth Mental Health Office
  • Implementing the HSE CAMHS service improvement programme

The HSE is pleased to announce the appointment of Donan Kelly as Ireland’s first National Lead for Child and Youth Mental Health.

Mr Kelly brings with him extensive leadership and mental health experience from his roles as Chief Operating Officer in Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust and Service Director for the Oxfordshire & BSW Mental Health Directorate. He has previously worked in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in both Ireland and Australia.

Speaking about his new role, Donan Kelly said:

“Our new office will provide leadership, oversight and support to services and programmes that relate to child and youth mental health. To ensure that services are integrated and support young people through the promotion of good mental health, early intervention and, when the need arises to ensure there are clear pathways to additional supports, including specialist mental health services.

Our immediate focus will be on bringing together the work of the HSE Child and Youth Mental Health Service Improvement Programme, implementation of related Sharing the Vision policy recommendations and National Clinical programmes. We will work in partnership with key areas such as primary care, disabilities, education, Tusla, our voluntary, community and social partners, and of course young people and families, to develop services.”

He will join Dr Amanda Burke, recently appointed Clinical Lead for Youth Mental Health, in running the HSE’s new Child and Youth Mental Health Office. The office is responsible for the Child and Youth Mental Health Service Improvement Programme, designed to build capacity in CAMHS and youth mental health through the development of specialist services and clinical programmes. It will also provide leadership, operational oversight, and enhanced governance.

The HSE has made CAMHS and youth mental health service improvement a priority and has made significant improvements, such as five new CAMHS Hubs to support CAMHS Teams in delivering enhanced responses to children, young people and their families/carers in times of acute mental health crisis. Support from these Hubs is designed to be over a short period of time, as they provide targeted and intensive intervention and support with flexibility to respond to different young people’s or parent/carer needs. The appointment of Mr Kelly represents another step forward in this programme of work, which will deliver for children and young people across Ireland. 

Speaking about the work of the new office, Dr Amanda Burke, HSE Clinical Lead for Youth Mental Health said:

“As a CAMHS consultant psychiatrist working in the west of Ireland, ongoing service improvement has been a key area of focus for me. I am delighted to work with Donan in the new National Child and Youth Mental Health Office, as I believe his professional experience and personal commitment place him in an ideal position to lead and support our work. I look forward to working together with him and all of our HSE colleagues to bring about positive changes in mental health services for children and young people.”

David Walsh, National Director, Community Operations, HSE welcomed the new appointments:

“The new Child and Youth Mental Health Office builds on service improvements already started in CAMHS and will effect important changes in mental health supports and services for children and young people in Ireland. The HSE is fully committed to working in partnership with staff, service users and families, in order to achieve the goal of a modern and fit for purpose youth mental health service that meets the needs of those who require support.”

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