Mental health services for children and adolescents in Ireland exist in a state of ambiguity. Services operate within a context of resource constraints and increasing demand. The result is that practitioners have to prioritise the client groups according to policy dictates. In Ireland the policy priority is children at risk of physical and sexual abuse. Utilising current literature in the field, this paper discusses the potential consequences of such a focus for clients, practitioners and policy through a comparative analysis with the United Kingdom. It is argued that a lack of legislative clarity, combined with a focus on abuse has led to the neglect of older adolescents with psychological problems non-consequent of abuse. The implications of such neglect are indicated and discussed