105 children admitted to adult psychiatric units

ADULT psychiatric units admitted 105 children under the age of 18 from January to September this year, and hundreds of young people are on a waiting list for psychiatric services, new figures have shown.

Under new rules, admission of children to adult units must no longer take place and the practice has been widely criticised.

Of the 105 admissions this year, 71 were 17 years old, 29 were 16, and five were under 16 years of age. One young person was admitted to the Central Mental Hospital this year.

The figures are contained in the third annual child and adolescent mental health report, which found that many young people are waiting for community psychiatric services.

Community teams reported that a total of 1,897 children and adolescents were waiting to be seen at the end of September, 479 of those have been waiting six to 12 months, and 288 have been waiting more than 12 months.

The report also contained evidence of significant improvement in services for young people.

It showed that 7,849 new cases were seen by community CAMHS (child and adult mental health services) teams between October 2010 and September 2011, compared with 7,561 in the previous 12 months.

The report found 45% of referrals are seen within a month of referral, 69% within three months, and the waiting list for community services is down 20%.

There was a decrease of 1,722 (48%) in the number on waiting lists from March 2007 to September 2011.

According to the report, one in 10 children and adolescents suffer from mental health disorders associated with “considerable distress and substantial interference with personal functions” such as family and social relationships and their capacity to cope with day-to-day stresses and life challenges.

Adolescents aged 15 and over continue to be the most likely to be attending services, followed by children aged 10 to 14 years.

ADHD accounted for 34% of cases presented followed by anxiety at 15.3%.

Depressive disorders increased with age, accounting for 23.5% of the 15 to 17 plus year age group.

The document also highlights the ongoing difficulty the services have in keeping up with demand since it took responsibility for all under 18 year olds. To achieve this requires “significant additional resources”, the report says.

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