The Government is Failing the Children of Ireland.

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They say a society is to be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable.If this is the case then  Ireland as a society  and its Government can collectively hang its head in shame. I can not think of a group  as vulnerable as children who suffer from a mental  illness. The fact of the minors  young susceptible  age , the severity and the suffering of the condition makes children who suffer from a mental  illness one of the most vulnerable groups in our society .

There were 106 children admitted last year to adult mental health units, a quarter of all child admissions , a number that is far too high. The Mental Health Commission revealed during the year. The HSE pointed out that 24 were then transferred on to youth services.

Putting children who suffer from a mental illness into an adult psychiatric unit is to be condemned . There are reasons for this . Children who suffer  from a mental illness are at greater risk  in an adult psychiatric unit than if put in a children’s psychiatric unit .Children are more likely to receive more appropriate care in a children’s psychiatric unit. Children who are put in  to an adult psychiatric unit may see incidents happen that no child should ever have to see.

It must be remembered in adult psychiatric units, adult patients are unwell and this can lead to violence , self harm and scenes of mayhem in adult psychiatric wards on occasions . In general in my experience with adult psychiatric units are that they are usually quiet tranquil places. But as I once heard a nurse  say “when it kicks off ” it can be mayhem. Depending on the psychiatric hospitals standards it is not unusual to occasionally find blood , urine or faeces on the hospital floors and scenes of violence.

It is totally inappropriate and scandalous to put children who suffer from a mental illness into these conditions . In my opinion the Government is violating a child’s human rights by leaving a child open to the risks of  violence by staying in an adult psychiatric unit .  The country’s mental health  care system is failing young people.Figures show one in 10 young people will experience mental health difficulties severe enough to require specialist care . Under the HSE’s system children could wait for up to a year for specialised treatment.Figures show there were 2,056 young people waiting to be seen at the end of September – with 160 waiting between nine to 12 months.In the 12 months to last September, there had been a 10pc surge in new cases, with 8,671 lodged with the youth mental health teams. Around 45pc were seen within one month of referral, while 5pc had to wait over a year.

The Government blame the  recession for being unable to appropriately fund child and adolescent psychiatric care .But even in the Celtic Tiger era, investment in young people’s mental health services was totally inadequate. Children who suffer from mental illness don’t have their own voice and don’t have a vote. They depend on the great work by children’s charities and mental health advocacy groups to protect them .They should be able to depend on the Government to protect them but alas this is not the case.

Ireland needs one major specialist children’s psychiatric hospital where all the children who suffer from a mental illness around Ireland can go  .It should be a child patient only hospital with first  class mental health  care and facilities. It is unacceptable and shameful in this day and age ,in this modern society  for children to be admitted to adult psychiatric units . The Government is failing the children of Ireland.

P.S.

Here are some shocking figures from the Fourth Annual Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service Report 2011 – 2012 . In  2011 , 31% of the children admitted were put into adult units and in the nine months January to September 2012 , 25% of the children admitted were put in to adult units.

 Fourth Annual Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service Report 2011 – 2012 :

In 2011 there were 432 admissions of children and adolescents up to the age of 18 years to inpatient units. Females
accounted for 56% of admissions. Forty-one percent of all admissions were aged 17 years on admission, 27% were
aged 16 years, 15% were aged 15 years and 17% were aged 14 years or younger. Of the 432 admissions, 300 (69%)
were to child and adolescent units and 132 (31%) to adult inpatient units. Seven admissions of young people aged
less than 16 years were to adult units.
The average length of stay was significantly longer in the child and adolescent units, at 48.34 days (median 39 days),
than in adult units at 9.9 days (median 5 days). Twenty-five percent of admissions to adult units were discharged
within two days of admission and 64% within one week. Sixty percent of admissions to child and adolescent units
were for periods longer than 4 weeks.

In the nine months January to September 2012, 228 (75%) of the 303 admissions of children under the age of 18
years were to child and adolescent units and the remaining 75 (25%) to adult units. Of the admissions to adult units;
50 (67%) were 17 years of age, 21 (28%) were 16 years of age and 4 (5%) were 15 years of age. Fifteen (20%) of the
adolescents admitted to the adult inpatient units were subsequently transferred to Merlin Park, St. Joseph’s and Eist
Linn units.
For the period from 1 January to 31 December 2011, the National Registry of Deliberate Self Harm recorded 1,076
deliberate self harm presentations to hospital that were made by 904 children (316 boys and 588 girls) aged from 10
to 17 years which represented 9% of all cases.
Of the recorded presentations for all children aged from 10 to 17 years in 2011, 35% were made by boys and 65%
were made by girls.

Sources :

Fourth Annual Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service Report 2011 – 2012 : http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/Publications/services/Mentalhealth/camhs20112012annualreport.pdf

State of the  Nation’s Children Ireland 2012 :http://www.dcya.gov.ie/documents/research/StateoftheNationsChildren2012.pdf

Report on mental health of our young people is a wake-up call”  : Irish Independent 11 OCTOBER 2013

“Mental health chief slams HSE for ‘failing’ the young”  :Irish Independent  Louise Hogan – 19 JUNE 2013

Open Letter : Dear Celebrities with a Mental Illness

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Dear Celebrities with a Mental Illness,

Hi hope life is good.  Life is hard for all of us sometimes. As you know mental illness does not discriminate , its an equal opportunities illness. No matter who you are , where your from , what you ve done  if mental illness  wants you it can have you . Genes and environment…. well  take your pick what’s the  story with both.

So I call you a celebrity and what’s a celebrity to me . Well I call a celebrity someone who has alot of public interest and media interest. So a celebrity to me could be a politician , a movie star , a author , a cook , a presenter , a sportsman or woman , a TV presenter ,a journalist  or anyone with enough public interest .The simple definition for me is the level of public interest in that person.

The key is that you are in the public eye and your every move is magnified . Not any easy place to be I imagine. Especially not easy if you suffer a mental illness. Mental illness is difficult enough to mange if your just an ordinary Joe Soap like myself. But it must incredible tough if you have people scrutinising your  every move. Hey we all make mistakes I have made my fair share. Doesn’t mean we  want the whole world to know about them . So you spent a month in a psychiatric hospital and it was one of your toughest experiences in your life . Who wants that splashed all over the tabloids with headlines likes ” Crazy Insert Name spends month in Psychiatric Hospital ”  . I have a mental illness I can empathise about Psychiatric Hospitals. Some are brilliant enlightening places , some are hell holes . No one wants to play the which one is it Psychiatric Hospital Lottery.

But what I really want to say to you is your Famous ! Congrats ! But as is so often quoted from Spider man ” With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility ” . Like it or lump it you are a Role Model . Boom I said it ! People look up to you , some people want to be like you . People read about you ,  people follow your work ,  people care about your life.  

Role Model eh … What you do and say matters.  The words Role Model I hope hits you like a bucket of ice cold water being poured over your head . Kids and Teenagers look up to you and adults too .  And If you choose to disclose your mental illness publicly I commend you as I am not brave enough to do that . And if you choose not to disclose your mental illness publicly I deeply respect that as I know what its like. 

But if you choose to disclose your mental illness publicly which  is to be highly commended as it is #FightingStigma , there is even a bigger responsibility on you as you are partly representing me and my kind …. humankind which includes those with mental illnesses. 

So if your lifestyle leads people to think that  people with schizophrenia , bipolar ,  anorexia , OCD , depression or any mental illness are crazy lunatics who are not fit to be employed, loved or treated with respect. Well then sorry . Thats not cool. I dont appreciate that  or respect that. And most people with a mental illness dont. But I do understand that we all make mistakes and sometimes are not responsible for our actions in the grips of mental illness. 

But I m not talking about when you are not well .I m talking about how you represent yourself when  you are well.  The general public s perceptions and misconceptions about mental illness are informed by what’s  written in the newspapers and by whats shown on TV about celebrities with mental illness. And if the general public is misinformed then it is the ordinary joe soap with a mental illness who has to suffer the shame and stigma due to misinformation in the public media. 

But if you are one of the countless celebrities who uses their position to raise awareness of mental illness , to fight stigma , to give hope. Then I salute you. May we fight the battle of stigma in society together . May we make this world a better place. And by we I mean all who suffer from a mental illness and all those great teachers, parents, nurses, doctors, psychotherapists ,journalists , celebrities, newspapers, and employers who make our life easier.

Celebrities such as Stephan Fry , Marian Keyes, Frank Bruno , Alastair Campbell ,Catherine Zeta Jones ,Elton John ,Sinead O’Connor have all been great examples of  Celebrities making life better for ordinary people with mental illness through educating the public , fighting stigma and helping charities .  You can  go to this website to see an extensive list of celebrities with mental illness who have been very successful  http://www.mentalhealthadvocacyinc.org/role-models  . 

 

Take care,

P.S.