New data released by the Western Health and Social Care Trust show that there have been 134 admissions of children, some as young as 11 years of age, to psychiatric wards in the North over the past two years.
Twenty-four of these young people, some of whom were suicidal or had been self-harming, and who were suffering from a variety of mental health conditions, were admitted to adult wards in the Western Trust between January 2015 and January 2018.
According to the information, which has been newly-released by the local health authority in response to a Freedom of Information request, all of those young patients who were admitted to adult wards were aged at least 16 or 17.
However, the vast majority of children who received in-patient psychiatric care were treated by members of the Crisis Assessment and Intervention Team (CAIT) at the specialist Beechcroft unit for children in South Belfast. There were one hundred and ten admissions to Beechcroft over the two year period with a range of patients aged from 11 to 17 seen by this team, which provides “rapid assessment and intervention to children and young people who present at A&E or GP [practices] with acute mental ill health, self harm or suicidal ideation”.
The vast majority of children affected were admitted voluntarily after having been assessed as suffering from conditions such as depression and low mood, in some cases, to the extent that they were self-harming or having suicidal thoughts.
The Lifeline helpline is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Anyone of any age living in the North can call the Lifeline helpline for free on 0808 808 8000 if they are experiencing distress or despair.
At Lifeline you can talk to a professionally trained counsellor who will listen, give help and support, in confidence.