Monday 11 April 2016
Mental Health Reform expresses concern at the number of children under 17 admitted to adult mental health units
Mental Health Reform is concerned by new data which reveals that almost one in ten children admitted to an adult mental health unit in Ireland last year were aged 16 or younger.
According to the latest HSE Performance Report, 95 children were initially admitted to an adult unit in 2015 and of these nine or 9.5 per cent were aged 16 or younger. The HSE Performance Report for December 2015 revealed that overall 356 children required inpatient care in 2015 and of these 261 or 73.3 per cent were admitted to a child and adolescent mental health unit and 95 or 26.7 per cent were admitted to an adult unit. The proportion of children admitted to adult units has decreased by approximately 5 per cent since the end of 2013.
The figures also reveal that there has been an increase in the number of children and young people receiving acute inpatient mental health care with the numbers increasing from 290 in 2014 to 356 last year.
The Director of Mental Health Reform Dr Shari McDaid said, “These new figures serve to underline why mental health services need the urgent attention of government. At a time when all parties are negotiating the formation of the next government, Mental Health Reform would urge all those involved to ensure the provision of mental health services is prioritised in the new Programme for Government.”
Dr. McDaid also expressed concern that “the lack of capacity in community based mental health services could be leading to an increase in children being admitted to in patient care.”
The HSE’s Performance Assurance Report January 2014 outlines the percentage of child admissions to adult units between 2008 and 2013. According to these figures 32 per cent of child admissions in 2013 were to adult units. This reveals that the number of child admissions to adult units has reduced only marginally (approx. 5 per cent) between the end of 2013 and 2015.
Coupled with the numbers of children still being admitted to adult units Mental Health Reform is also concerned by the latest batch of inspection reports from the Mental Health Commission which found that a number of inpatient mental health units were non-compliant with the code of practice for the admission of children. The inspection reports also note the lack of a child advocacy service.
In 2009 the Mental Health Commission issued an amendment to its Code of Practice Relating to the Admission of Children under the Mental Health Act 2001. This states that no child under 16 years is to be admitted to an adult unit in an approved centre from 1st July 2009, that no child under 17 years is to be admitted to an adult unit in an approved centre from 1st December 2010; and that no child under 18 years is to be admitted to an adult unit in an approved centre from 1st December 2011