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100 teens placed in adult psychiatric wards this year

A day after it was revealed that a 14-year-old was placed in an adult mental health unit, the HSE confirms that teens have been frequently put in adult facilities this year because of a lack of juvenile places.

AT LEAST 100 teenagers were placed in adult psychiatric units this year because there was nowhere more suitable to put them. The revelation comes a day after it was reported that four teenagers - including a 14-year-old – had been put in the adult psychiatric ward in Waterford General Hospital last Sunday and Monday.

The Irish Independent reported today that a HSE spokesperson confirmed that provisional figures to the end of August showed that 100 teenagers had been placed in adult units because of a lack of suitable places for them in units geared specificially to juveniles. It will be against contraventions from December to place anyone under 17 in an adult mental health facility. At the moment, although it is not illegal, it is recommended that such a situation should only come about in exceptional cases.

The HSE spokesperson referring to the 100 teen admissions to adult wards this year, said:

Of these, 43 are under 17 and 57 are under 18. The admission of young adults aged 16 and older to adult facilities is not in breach of mental-health regulations. However, from December this year, the age limit for precluding admission to adult units is being raised to 17. From December 1, 2011, this age limit will be raised to 18.

Where a young person is admitted to an adult facility, it is usually for a limited period of time – for example, over a weekend – and an appropriate care plan and placement is arranged for them as soon as possible.

There are currently more than 6,000 children and adolescents being treated for mental-health problems in the community. There are 32 in-patient places dedicated to juvenile mental health services. This figure will rise to 52 by the end of this year when a new facility opens in Bessborough in Cork city.

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