January 15, 2009

Publication: Irish Examiner

Date: Thursday, January 15, 2009 Page: 9

Author: by Jennifer Hough

Headline: Psychiatric admissions up after 20-year fall

Lack of community options blamed for increase by Jennifer Hough

Admissions to psychiatric units and hospitals have increased for the first time since 1986, according to the Health Research Board (HRB). The figures from the HRB's annual report also show that people who were divorced had the highest rate of all admissions, and agricultural workers had the highest rate of first-time admissions. Dermot Walsh, principal investigator with the HRB, said the lack of community services for mental health patients was one of the reasons behind the first increase in more than 20 years. Mr Walsh said if sufficient community-based options were available, the number of people being admitted into hospitals would decrease.

The HRB's report, which revealed the first increase in numbers presenting to mental health facilities for more than 20 years, also found the number of people admitted for the first time had increased from 5,601 in 2006 to 5,853 in 2007. "There are no alternatives to hospitalisation and the Vision for Change plan, which recommended further community care, has been very poorly implemented," said Mr Walsh He said while the increase was not huge 20,769 were admitted to facilities in 2007, up from 20,388 in 2006 any increase was unacceptable.

In keeping with the pattern of previous years, a socioeconomic breakdown of figures revealed that the unskilled occupational group had the highest rate of all with agricultural workers recording the highest rate of first-time admissions. Other core findings revealed that people in the 45—54 year age group were most likely to be admitted to psychiatric units and there was an equal proportion of male and female admissions. In terms of age, the 20-24 year age group had the highest rate of first-time admissions. According to the report, depressive disorders accounted for more than one in four of all admissions, while schizophrenia accounted for one in five. Alcoholic disorders accounted for almost one in eight admissions, and non-voluntary admissions made up 9% of all admissions.

A total of 364 under 18s were admitted during the year and 249 of these were first-time admissions. Females accounted for almost 60% of all admissions and first admissions. The HRB found, that almost eight out of every 10 children admitted were between 15-17 years old. Just over 2% were aged between six and 14 years of age. For under 18s, depressive disorders were the reason one in four were admitted; Schizophrenia was reported by almost one in every 10 while 15% had a diagnosis of eating disorders, and 13% were diagnosed with neurosis.