Thursday, December 06, 2012

Report shows improvement in youth mental health services, but further progress is needed

Fine Gael Meath East TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Regina Doherty TD, has today (Wednesday) said that the latest HSE report on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) shows more young people are being treated in the community, while admissions to in-patient facilities have fallen considerably. However, Deputy Doherty added that the number of young people presenting with depression shows further progress is needed.

“This HSE report provides a very interesting insight into the level of mental health problems within our youth population, and how they are being treated. The recent focus in the media on cyber bullying and its harmful effects underlines the need to ensure that adequate services are in place to support and treat young people with depression and other mental health issues.

“Considerable progress has been made; there was a 10% increase in the number of new cases seen by CAMHS between October 2011 and September 2012, and there has been a dramatic reduction in the numbers of children being admitted to in-patient units. In 2008, 65% of child and adolescent admissions were to adult units; this has now fallen to 25%. It is still too much, but the considerable reduction is welcome and the Government is determined to make further progress on this area.

“A key commitment in the Programme for Government is to deliver more health care in the community, so patients can be treated locally and be kept out of hospital. Multi-disciplinary community mental health teams are being boosted with the recruitment of 150 extra mental health professionals. At least one of each mental health profession is represented on each team, which will help to ensure young people are getting the help they need.

“Just under 1.5% of young people and children in Ireland are accessing CAMHS, which means the vast majority of young people here are happy and healthy. However, the profile of those young people who do need to access CAMHS illustrates the pressures and concerns with which a minority of our teenagers are coping. Anxiety accounted for almost 20% of cases. More worryingly, deliberate self-harm or suicidal ideation was the reason for 28% of new referrals. Depressive disorders increase with age, accounting for almost 22% of problems experienced by those aged 15 and over.

“About 1 in 10 children and adolescents suffer from mental health disorders. The Government is committed to improving services in the community, despite our economic constraints. There are currently 63 multi-disciplinary child and adolescent teams in place, and a number of new adolescent in-patient units are being provided, including several in the Greater Dublin Area. We must ensure that despite increasing demands, we continue to work hard to deliver better services and positive outcomes.”

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