Mental health services

Mental health services can seem a mystery for many of us. Learning about the type of health professionals working in mental health can help make things more clear. ReachOut Parents Youth Mental Health

Primary care

General practices can offer a range of services. Some have counsellors and other health professionals on-site.

The services accessed through a GP practice are referred to as primary care services. In some areas psychology services are available in primary care and therefore you can make a referral yourself without going to a GP.

Specialist services

If a GP feels that you, or the young person you’re concerned about, is in need of more specialist mental health support then they will refer you to mental health services, sometimes known as secondary services.

A range of health professionals including psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health social workers and community mental health nurses provide secondary services.

A referral can be made to a Child and Adult Mental Health Service (CAMHS), if your GP is concerned about your son or daughter. Read more about accessing services.

Voluntary mental health organisations

These are in the community and they are usually very responsive. Most voluntary organisations deal with specific aspects of mental health and many of them provide services for young people as well as adults.

Some well established organisations and services include:

These are just some examples of voluntary organisations and there is more detail on these and other services in our section on voluntary supports.

Counselling services

While the counselling sector in Ireland is not regulated, meaning that anyone can technically set up a counselling service, trained and qualified counsellors are accredited by bodies such as the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy or the Psychological Society of Ireland.

If you’re interested in accessing counselling for yourself or your son or daughter, you can search for accredited counsellors on The typical cost of a counselling session is from €60 to €80.

Some services offer a sliding scale cost plan depending on a person’s income. A session usually lasts up to one hour, although everyone’s needs are different. Most counsellors would recommend a minimum of between four and eight counselling sessions to make a difference.

Public mental health services in Ireland

Public mental health services are provided to young people through CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) for those under 18 years-old or adult mental health services for those over 18 years-old. The suitability of either is dependent on age and location.

The Department of Health is responsible for the planning of all health services, including mental health services and avails of Health Service Executive (HSE) to provide services in some cases. If you’re concerned or worried about someone and want to access HSE services the first place to go is your family doctor or GP.

Private services

A range of professionals work privately, including psychologists, psychiatrists etc. Most private services offer outpatient appointments.

Some health insurance policies cover a portion of professionals fees. You can check this with your health insurance provider who can tell you if the private practitioner you chose is registered under their scheme.

There are two private adolescent inpatient mental health units in Ireland, which are based in Dublin 2.

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