Rise in demand for child services

Wed, Dec 5, 2012, 00:00

There has been a sharp jump in the number of young people attending mental health services over the last year with attention disorders, autism and anxiety problems making up the bulk of cases.

Almost 10,000 children and adolescents got help between October 2011 and September this year – up 17 per cent on the previous year.

Waiting lists for services have increased by 8 per cent since last year with a third of new cases waiting over three months to be seen, according to the annual report of the Health Service Executive’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. At the end of last September there were 2,065 young people waiting to be seen by services.

Controversial inpatient admissions to adult units continued with 75 young people placed in such units between January and September this year. This included four 15-year-olds, 21 16-year-olds and 50 17-year-olds. The teenagers spent an average of 10 days in the adult units as opposed to a 48-day average stay for those admitted to child and adolescent units.

Over a third (35.7 per cent) of new cases involved attention disorders with over 43 per cent of four- to nine-year-olds presenting with such problems.

Anxiety, phobias or obsessive compulsive disorders accounted for 18.7 per cent of cases; types of autism 11.2 per cent; depression 9.4 per cent; self-harm 3.4 per cent; eating disorders 2.4 per cent and schizophrenia or manic depression 1.4 per cent .

More boys than girls were seen by services at almost 65 per cent. But more girls were seen for self harm, eating disorders, depression and emotional disorders.