Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Teenage mental health unit opens

Munster's Paul O'Connell is to open the Willow Grove Adolescent Inpatient Unit
Munster's Paul O'Connell is to open the Willow Grove Adolescent Inpatient Unit

Teenagers suffering from anxiety, eating disorders and psychosis can now be admitted to a new specialist mental health unit.

Vulnerable youngsters at risk of suicide will be among the patients admitted to the Willow Grove Adolescent Inpatient Unit in St Patrick's University Hospital, Dublin.

An estimated 20% of teenagers in Ireland have a mental illness at any one time, with as many as one in 200 needing hospital inpatient care.

Paul Gilligan, St Patrick's chief executive, said the establishment of the private 14-bed facility - which will be covered by health insurance - was vital to meet a vacuum in essential, mental health supports.

Mr Gilligan said: "Tragically, in the past, many young adults have not had access to such supports. Only last year, over 200 young people under the age of 18 were treated in adult psychiatric facilities and this is no longer acceptable.

"Appropriate support and timely intervention results in significantly improved outcomes. The increase in teenage suicide, particularly among young men, particularly highlights the need for early interventions."

The unit will be officially opened by rugby international and Munster star Paul O'Connell.

Adolescent services at Willow Grove, led by Consultant Psychiatrist Sarah Buckley, will cater for 14 to 18-year-olds and programmes offered include mood, anxiety, eating disorders and psychosis. The average stay will be around 28 days.

Dr Sarah Buckley said increased pressures in society meant there was a growing demand for dedicated adolescent mental health services.

She said: "Adolescence is a difficult and challenging time for many young people. External pressures from peers, as well as coping with the transition from child to adult can leave many young people feeling vulnerable and exposed."

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