Wednesday 21 March 2018

Mental health chief slams HSE for 'failing' the young

Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

THE head of one of the country's mental health facilities has warned that the care system is "failing" young people.

Figures show one in 10 young people will experience mental health difficulties severe enough to require specialist care.

Clinical psychologist Paul Gilligan, chief executive of St Patrick's University Hospital, warned that under the HSE's system children could wait for up to a year for specialised treatment.

There were 106 children admitted last year to adult mental health units, a quarter of all child admissions, a report from the Mental Health Commission revealed. The HSE pointed out that 24 were then transferred on to youth services.

Mr Gilligan said these were not "hidden facts" and were freely available from the HSE and government departments.

"They indicate that we are failing many, if not most, of these children and young people. The consequences of this are devastating," he said.

He warned that most serious mental health difficulties began before the age of 24, and if left untreated had significant impacts on personal and family relationships.

He dismissed the common excuse given that a lack of finances prevented better care, saying "even in the Celtic Tiger era, investment in young people's mental health services was inadequate".

Figures show there were 2,056 young people waiting to be seen at the end of September – with 160 waiting between nine to 12 months.

A spokeswoman for the HSE said those cases deemed urgent were seen as a priority, while others were placed on a waiting list.

In the 12 months to last September, there had been a 10pc surge in new cases, with 8,671 lodged with the youth mental health teams. Around 45pc were seen within one month of referral, while 5pc had to wait over a year.

Irish Independent

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