A REPORT COMMISSIONED BY THE Mental Health Commission has found that children as young as 13 have been sent to adult mental health units due to the lack of out of hours care services.
Some of the young people sent to adult units simply need a social worker, according to the report.
Although most young people admitted to adult units are over 16, a “significant proportion” are under 16 and one child as young as 13 was admitted.
The report points out: “the Mental Health Act and subsequent codes of practice nowhere say that a young person should never be admitted to an adult facility”.
It says that the government’s plan to create 108 child and adolescent inpatient beds is “generous by today’s standards” and the provision of those beds is not yet certain.
The report singles Limerick out for its worrying number of youth admissions to inpatient beds, which appears to happen “more easily than in other parts of the country.”
“The practice of admitting patients for an inpatient period of assessment and treatment carries significant risks and is out of step with the rest of the country”, it warns.
The report was written for the MHC by consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr Sally Bonnar, according to the Irish Examiner. The Commission says it will review the report’s findings and make recommendations.
Emergency services for children in Ireland were criticised last week by consultant paediatrician Dr Joanna Nelson, who said that there are no out of hours services for children who are abused or sexually assaulted.