independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Admissions to mental health units plummet

THE number of patients in psychiatric units and hospitals has dropped from 19,801 to 2,407 in the past 50 years, according to a new report.

The fall amounts to a reduction of 88pc and shows the shift away from in-patient care to more community-based treatment for people with a psychiatric illness.

The findings are revealed in a new census carried out by the Health Research Board and they give an insight into social changes in the half-century since 1963.

The 2013 census shows:

* Men make up 55pc of patients in psychiatric units and hospitals. The gender breakdown of in-patients has not changed over the last 50 years.

* One-third of in-patients on census night were aged 65 years and over and 5pc were under 25 years.

* Single people accounted for 59pc of in-patients on census night and those who were married made up 20.5pc. The widowed had the highest rate of hospitalisation, followed by people who were divorced.

* The unskilled occupational group had the highest rate of hospitalisation.

* Almost one-third of residents on census night had a diagnosis of schizophrenia and 17pc had depression.

* Around 15pc were involuntary patients who were detained against their will. Over the last 50 years there has been a decline in the proportion of involuntary patients, from 79pc in 1963. The rate of involuntary hospitalisation was highest in Dublin North-East followed by HSE-West.

* More than a third of all in-patients were long-stay -- they had been in hospital for one year or longer on census night. Twenty-two per cent were long-stay and had been there for five years or more.

* Half of those who had been hospitalised for five years or more on census night were aged 65 years and over. Thirty-six per cent of those who were aged 75 years or over had been in hospital for five years or more on census night.

The report reflects the changes brought about by the closure of the old Victorian hospitals that were condemned for their grim surroundings in inspection reports over the decades.

The proportion of patients resident in psychiatric units attached to general hospitals has increased from 3pc in 1981 to 30pc in 2013.

There were 64 patients who were under 18 years of age on census night. This is an increase in the number of under-18s resident -- 43 -- since the last census in 2010.

The report said this may be due to the increased need to provide in-patient care for young people in that time.

Just more than one-third (34pc) of child and adolescent patients were 17 years old on census night and 28pc were 16 years old. Fourteen per cent were 15 years old but 5pc were just 13 years old.

The report found that 41pc of child and adolescent residents had a diagnosis of depressive disorders, 14pc had schizophrenia, 11pc suffered eating disorders, and 5pc had neurosis.

Irish Independent

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