The Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People has said there are not enough mental health services for young people in Ireland.

Speaking on RTÉ's Saturday with Cormac Ó hEadhra, Jim Daly said there are almost 1,000 different services around the country, but they are very disjointed.

"You have many different organisations - community-run, voluntary-led, charitable. It's an issue about knowing where to go for appropriate referrals," Mr Daly said.

Earlier this week, a number of mental health organisations expressed concern about a spike in anxiety among Leaving Certificate students.

Around 124,000 students began their Leaving Cert and Junior Cycle exams on Wednesday morning.

Mr Daly said that a lot of the time, young people experiencing anxiety are sent to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) when they do not necessarily need to be.

He said: "That's consultant-led, and we can't always get consultant psychiatrists. We have 70 teams around the country that are 100% free at the point of access, and 26,000 children accessed that service last year."

The minister said he would like to see more psychology services in the system, rather than psychiatry. He said psychology can help prevent mental health issues from escalating to needing psychiatric treatment.

He said 88% of young people who were referred to CAMHS last year were seen within 12 weeks, and added that he was concentrating his efforts on building an infrastructure below CAMHS.

The minister encouraged young people who are struggling to reach out and ask for help.