January 24, 2008

A total of 193 children (under the age of 18) were admitted to adult psychiatric hospitals in 2007, according to the latest figures from the Mental Health Commission (MHC).

Released last week, the data, which provide figures from November 2006 to December 2007, further revealed that 216 children in total were admitted during this 14-month period.

The number of child admissions to adult psychiatric hospitals peaked in May 2007 at 23 — 14 of whom were male and nine were female.

The second-highest number of admissions was recorded in February 2007 when 20 cases were reported to the MHC — 11 of these were girls and nine were boys. Of these, there was one 14-year-old, six 16-year-olds and 13 children aged 17.

The lowest figure was recorded in June 2007 at 11 cases — five females and six males. Among these one was 16 years old and the remainder were 17 years old.

This is the first time that a full 12-month set of data is available on the admission of children to adult psychiatric units since the Mental Health Commission first began to report these figures on 1 November 2006.

According to the data, at 19, the number of children admitted in December 2007 was almost double the figure (10) recorded in December 2006. There was also an increase of two admissions in November last year at 15 compared to 13 in November 2006.

The children ranged in ages from as young as 13 to 17.

Since reporting began in November 2006, the vast majority, or 133 children, were 17 years of age, 64 were 16; there were seven 15-year-olds; 10 aged 14; and two aged just 13 years.

According to the provisional data, “based on notifications of the admission of children to approved centres for adults received by the MHC from approved centres as at 7 January 2008” of the 216 children admitted, 116 were girls and 100 were boys. The data also revealed that 211 of the admissions were voluntary and five were on an involuntary basis.

The MHC issued a Code of Practice in relation to the admission of children under the Mental Health Act 2001, which has been effective since 1 November 2006.

by June Shannon jshannon@medicineweekly.ie