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Dublin: 3°C Saturday 27 November 2021

Rise in first-time admissions to Irish psychiatric units

The 18–19 year age group represented the highest rate of first-time admissions to mental health facilities during 2009 – 2010.

Image: Julipan via Creative Commons/Flickr

FIRST-TIME ADMISSIONS to Irish mental psychiatric units and hospitals increased between 2009 to 2010 – with young people representing the greatest increase of this group.

First admissions were recorded at 5,972 in 2009 and rose to 6,266 in 2010, according to figures published today in the Health Research Board annual report Activities of Irish Psychiatric Units and Hospitals 2010.

The report shows that the 18–19 year age group had the highest rate of first admissions, at 291.6 per 100,000 population.

Young people

A total of 435 admissions were for people under 18 in 2010 – an increase from 2009 (367) – and, of those, 79 per cent were first admissions. Over half of first-time admissions of those aged under 18 were female (53 per cent).

Eighty-two per cent of all admissions were aged 15–17 years old, and 18 per cent were aged between 11–14 years of age.

The report showed that:

  • Depressive disorders accounted for 28 per cent of all admissions for under-18s
  • Neuroses accounted for 11 per cent
  • Schizophrenia accounted for 9 per cent
  • Eating disorders accounted for 8 per cent

Almost 63 per cent of all patients aged under-18s were admitted to dedicated child and adolescent in-patient units; almost 29 per cent were to general hospital psychiatric units; 7 per cent were to to psychiatric hospitals; and just 2 per cent were to private hospitals.

Admissions overall decrease

However, while first-admissions saw an increase during 2009 – 21010, there was a reduction in the overall number of admissions to mental health facilities during that period, with 579 fewer admissions recorded. There was also a reduction in the number of re-admissions, with a drop from 14,223 to 13,353.

The main findings of the report showed that the 45–54 year age group were most likely to be admitted, with a rate of 727.7 per 100,000 population, and that there was an equal proportion of male and female admissions.

The unskilled occupational group had the highest overall rate of admission (749.2 per 100,000) and first admissions (175.1 per 100,000).


Almost 60 per cent of all patients (59.9 per cent) were diagnosed as suffering from a depressive disorder or schizophrenia; depressive disorders accounted for 29 per cent of all admissions, while schizophrenia accounted for 19.5 per cent of admissions – almost one in five.

Meanwhile, mania accounted for one in ten admissions (11 per cent) and alcoholic disorders accounted for almost one in ten admissions (9 per cent)

Involuntary admissions

There was an increase of one percentage point in involuntary first admissions from 2009 – 2010 (8 – 9 per cent), but the proportion of involuntary all admissions for that period remained unchanged.

The report outlined that 10 per cent of all admissions to general hospitals and 10 per cent of all admissions to psychiatric hospitals were involuntary, compared with 2 per cent of admissions to private hospitals.

There were 19,614 discharges from psychiatric units and hospitals in 2010, and 140 deaths. Almost two-thirds of all deaths were male and 58 per cent were aged 75 years of age or more.

The average length of stay for all discharges was 26 days: private hospitals represented the longest averaged discharge length (33.5 days), followed by psychiatric hospitals (26 days) and general hospital psychiatric units (22.8 days).

Discharges of patients with a diagnosis of organic mental disorder had the longest average length of stay at 45.6 days, followed by schizophrenia, at 36.5 days.

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