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More than 1,000 people sectioned in Northern Ireland over five years

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More than 1,000 people have been sectioned in Northern Ireland in the past five years, according to new statistics published by the Department of Health.

More than 1,000 people have been sectioned in Northern Ireland in the past five years, according to new statistics published by the Department of Health.

PA Archive/PA Images

More than 1,000 people have been sectioned in Northern Ireland in the past five years, according to new statistics published by the Department of Health.

More than 1,000 people have been sectioned in Northern Ireland in the past five years, new statistics published by the Department of Health reveal.

Since 2013/2014, there have been 1,010 compulsory admissions to mental health hospitals in the province under the Mental Health Order 1986 - a process commonly referred to as 'sectioning'.

The figure breaks down as just under four people being sectioned in Northern Ireland each week.

Annual statistics from the Department of Health cover a period from the start of April up to the end of March.

For the 2017/18 period just under half - 47% - of those admitted were aged between 18 and 44 years of age.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, SDLP mental health spokesman Mark H Durkan said the demand on mental health services had increased in recent years and said it was notable there hadn't been a marked increase in the number of individuals sectioned - something which can be an effective tool for someone in a crisis situation.

"There are have been changes in that time in why giving the increase in the mental health issues that we have seemed to have had over the past few years people would expect that figure to be higher.

"There are many constituents who have raised it to me, and statutory agencies who have raised it as well, how difficult it is to get someone sectioned.

"There are cases where people have attempted suicide and been rescued, and then taken to A & E by police, and then taken their own lives the following day."

The Foyle MLA added that his constituency was particularly impacted by the mental health crisis, saying it was the "single biggest issue" in the area.

"It is linked to the economic neglect this part of the north has suffered over a number of years as well as a number of legacy issues," he said.

"It is an issue which begins with young people in schools and youth groups. Even with older people. It is actually the thing that people raise with me. It is a great thing that people are talking about it, it shows the stigma is being chipped away.

"It is reflected in an increase in demand for services but that is not matched by an increase in support for mental health services."

The release of information comes amid an increased focus on mental health services in the province.

Earlier this month campaigners said officials in Northern Ireland did not share their urgency over funding for counselling.

A group representing 40 groups and individuals met with Dr Sloan Harper and his colleagues from the Health and Social Care Board to demand greater counselling services.

The joint call to boost counselling services at GP practices is backed by over 40 GPs, counsellors and mental health charities, as well as over 2,000 individuals.

Across Northern Ireland

The figures released on Tuesday give figures give a wider picture of mental health and learning disability services in Northern Ireland.

As of February 17, there were 630 people being treated as inpatients in mental health hospitals across Northern Ireland.

Just over three quarters of these had been in the hospitals for less than six months, while 16 residents have been inpatients for 10 years or more.

On the same date, a count showed 113 patients being treated as inpatients in learning disability hospitals in Northern Ireland, with 37% having been resident for less than six months, while 21 patients - or 18.6% - have been resident for 10 years or more.

A person can be sectioned under the Mental Health Order if their symptoms are of such a severity that inpatient treatment is considered the best option.

The Order recommends a person be first approached about seeking voluntary treatment before any action is taken.

Belfast Telegraph