Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health Colm Keaveney says the Government is putting children at risk by continuing with the practice of treating them in adult psychiatric units. New figures released to Fianna Fáil reveal that 50 children were admitted to adult facilities in the first six months of this year.
Fine Gael and Labour had pledged to phase out this practice as part of the Programme for Government, but almost one third of children needing psychiatric treatment were admitted to adult units in 2015 to date.
Deputy Keaveney commented, “This Government’s record on mental health is absolutely abysmal. It is a disgrace that despite promises to ring-fence money for mental health services, we still have children being admitted to adult wards. Young people with mental health needs should be cared for in appropriate setting and we have had the money to achieve this in recent years. This government has continually plundered the mental health budget, syphoning it off to other areas within the health service to the detriment of these children.
“50 children, mostly vulnerable teenagers have been admitted to adult wards in the first six months of this year. This is completely unacceptable and causes untold stress not only to the children themselves but to their families and to the staff working in these units. The figures released to me reveal that this practice is happening right across the country. Our entire mental health infrastructure is not up to standard and Minister Kathleen Lynch has allowed her senior minister to regularly divert key funds away from the mental health sector.
“When are we really going to embrace the principles of A Vision for Change? It’s almost a decade since there was broad acceptance of the mental health strategy yet we’re still failing to give our children the dignity and care that they need.
“The forthcoming budget again offers Fine Gael and Labour an opportunity to reverse the underinvestment in mental health services over the past four years. It is high time we saw the political will and political leadership needed to put the staff, resources and mental health infrastructure in place to support children and teenagers in vulnerable circumstances.”