Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone has said she examining the issue of children’s mental health services with the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health.

She said one option being looked at is having all children’s services handled by one agency.

At present the Health Service Executive retains responsibility for children's mental health services despite the allocation of all social services for young people to the Child and Family Agency, Tusla. 

Minister Zappone's remarks follow the expression of concern by the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children about the lack of access to mental health services for young people.

The charity's annual report shows Childline received 422,000 calls in 2015. 

In its report the ISPCC says the number of calls relating to child and adolescent mental health continues to rise. 

The charity says 13% of the calls it received in 2015 related to mental health issues.

It says that in some cases children are waiting as long as 18 months for referral to a child psychologist.

The ISPCC also experienced an increase in the number of children contacting it with concerns around parental separation.

The organisation says the family courts system custody and access processes are not child-centred and it says the voice of the child is often not heard, which can result in children's emotional well-being being affected. 

The charity’s chief executive said she is very concerned over the rise in mental health cases.

Grainia Long said that it is not unusual for children to wait for four weeks to see an emergency psychiatrist or up to 18 months to see a child psychologist.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, she said reduced budgets over a number of years have resulted in much more complex cases and the children they are working with have a wide range of complex needs, adding that urgent investment in early intervention was needed.

"Our system, the mental health system for children and adults, is creaking at the seams so investment now needs to go into those services and very, very urgently." 

Ms Long said the second most common reason the ISPCC receives referrals from Child and Family Agency - Tusla - and other agencies concerns family separation.

She added that despite the Children's Referendum in 2012 the voice of the child is still not at the heart of the family law system and this is resulting in deep anxiety for children.

Ms Long also said evidence of early sexualised behaviour is another area of great concern.

She said unfortunately the charity is seeing cases where children as young as nine are viewing pornography.