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“People are being given these waiting times and by the time their appointment comes, it’s too late.”

These words were spoken by Gabrielle Connolly a few months after she reported an alleged sexual assault.

Aged 17, she was referred to children’s mental health services. She did not get counselling and within six months she had died in a drug-related incident.

Children’s mental health services have a nine-week target for seeing a patient after referral.

New figures show children’s mental health assessment targets have been breached hundreds of times in Northern Ireland.

In a statement the Belfast Trust said: “We appreciate this is a difficult time for the Connolly family and we are very sorry for their loss following Gabrielle’s passing.

“Unfortunately we cannot comment on this individual case”.

Commenting on waiting time figures the Belfast Trust said an increase in referrals and staff vacancies had an impact on waiting times.

A Belfast Trust spokesperson said recruitment of vacant posts had been “rigorously undertaken” and was already having an impact on waiting times in 2021.

Read more on this story here.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article, there are a list of organisations that may be able to help at BBC Action Line.

Video journalist: Niall McCracken

Source: BBC

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