Bullied 15-year-old in adult psychiatric ward for 10 days
A 15-year-old boy who was admitted into care by his parents after he was bullied at school has spent the last 10 days in an adult psychiatric ward.
The youngster, who is suffering from serious mental health problems, was forced to spend the entire Easter weekend in an adult ward because there were no beds available in children's facilities.
Last weekend, the boy's distraught father appealed for help from the HSE and Minister for Health Simon Harris.
However, he told the Sunday Independent yesterday that his son had "not had any fresh air for nine days" as he was confined to his room.
He said his son has deteriorated since he was put into care and is "getting worse by the day".
"He was a normal child just a few months ago but now he's just a lost soul," he said.
The father praised the staff looking after his son but said it was unacceptable that his son has been kept in a room on his own for more than a week.
"You wouldn't put an animal in these conditions," he said.
The father said he was furious with the HSE and has not received a telephone call from any senior managers.
However, Minister Harris has written to the family saying he trying to find suitable alternative accommodation.
A HSE spokesperson said: "Regrettably, at times a young person may be admitted to an adult facility to be cared for. We acknowledge that this is not ideal for the patient or their family, however, our aim is to ensure that the young person is provided safe and professional care when they need it."
Psychiatric Nurses Association general secretary Peter Hughes said there are "minimal therapeutic benefits" for children being kept in adult wards.
"The biggest complaint we get from our membership is children being admitted to adult wards. One in seven children are admitted to adult wards and this is unacceptable," he said.
He said one in three children in Ireland will have experienced mental health problems by the age of 13, and this increases to one in two by the age of 24.
However, there are only 67 beds in child psychiatric wards in the entire country.
Galway Fianna Fail TD Anne Rabbitte said her constituency was "hugely under resourced" when it came to Children and Adolescent Mental Health facilities.
"The HSE was supposed to open 50 beds but has decided to only open 45, which is a 10pc reduction. It is completely unacceptable," she said.
Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill said three adolescents with serious mental health problems were in paediatric beds in South Tipperary General Hospital last week.
"It's not a safe situation and I am calling for the HSE and the Government to wake up to the crisis in psychiatric services in this country," he said.