‘Questions’ over teen’s bipolar diagnosis

A 15-year-old boy in care whose weight has ballooned to 19st may have been prescribed medication for a condition he might not have, the High Court heard yesterday.

The teenager has been in “single separation” within the care facility and has been taking medication for bipolar behaviour.

However, one of the side effects is weight gain, and the court heard his mother had “questions” over the diagnosis. The court also heard he was awaiting an assessment by a psychologist who is on sick leave.

Junior counsel Brian Barrington, acting for the teenager’s mother, said: “It is unacceptable for a child to be kept in single separation because a psychologist is not available.”

Felix McEnroy SC, for the HSE, said there were side effects to the tablets the boy was taking, and Mr Barrington said a new report had raised questions over whether or not the young man did have a bipolar condition, meaning the medication would be unwarranted.

“She [his mother] is worried about his physical as well as his mental health,” said Mr Barrington.

“He is 19st.”

The young man is currently in Ballydowd and Mr McEnroy said there was “too many issues floating around” surrounding his medical care and these needed to be crystallised.

Mr Justice George Birmingham, hearing the Minor’s List, said the boy’s weight was “alarming” and that he was adding to the situation by not addressing his diet and by continuing to smoke.The case was listed for a review next week.

In another case on the Minor’s List, the court heard the HSE will have to get a US visa for a 17-year-old Irish teenager currently in a placement in Boystown in Nebraska when he turns 18.

The court heard that the teenager would find it easier to complete his second-level education in the US rather than return home.

In another case, the court heard how a 16-year-old girl has absconded eight times from her care setting in the past two weeks.

Mr Justice Birmingham said: “According to her when she gets back from some of the more prolonged absences she cannot recall where she was.”

Junior counsel for the guardian ad litem in the case, former children’s minister Barry Andrews, said the guardian was concerned over what supports were being put in place for the girl in what Mr Justice Birmingham called a “very disquieting situation”. The case will be heard again next week.

In another case, the court heard a girl in care has been self-harming. The court heard the girl might be undergoing an MRI scan.

In a case involving a teenage boy, the court heard he had been found in Castleblaney, Co Monaghan, having left his care placement, and tested positive for benzodiazepine and cannabis.

Another case was removed from the list and adjourned after what the judge said was “outstanding” work by all involved, including the HSE, with the 15-year-old boy now linking in with local youth services.

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