17% rise in number of mental health treatment referrals

More than a quarter of all new child and adolescent referrals for mental health treatment in the past year have been due to self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

17% rise in  number of mental health treatment referrals

The fourth annual Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) Report, published by the HSE yesterday, also shows a 17% increase in the number of referrals from October last year to the end of September this year.

There was an 8% rise in the number of adolescents waiting to be seen at the end of last September, compared to the same stage last year.

The report shows that while more people are being referred to CAMHS, even more referrals are likely in future due to the growing younger population in the past five years.

The increase in referrals has led to a rise in the number of children waiting to be seen, but Martin Rogan, the assistant national director for mental health, stressed that the situation was improving.

While the most frequently assigned primary presentation was for ADHD/hyperkinesis, followed by anxiety; depressive disorders increased with age and accounted for 21.6% of the 15 years and older age group.

While 25% of in-patient admissions were to adult mental health facilities, Mr Rogan said he expected this figure to drop to 15% by the end of next year.

The report shows that staffing levels nationally are just 38.1% that recommended by the Vision for Change, the 2006 policy framework for mental health services. Mr Rogan said most of 150 new posts would be in situ from next week, bringing the national average up to 50%.

Kathleen Lynch, the minister with responsibility for mental health, said work was continuing on improving CAMHS and that other services would have to come into play.

“We don’t want everyone in mental health services,” she said, “but for the people who do we need to ensure that they can access the services that they need.”

Mr Rogan said the level of non-attendance was lower than that of other countries.

He said * etsomeoneknow.ie would feature new advice on cyberbullying and that next year’s budget for the National Office of Suicide Prevention would increase from €4m this year to €7.1m.

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