The Health Service Executive provides a range of community based and in-patient mental health services to children and adolescents, informed by A Vision for Change and funding prioritised by the Government for new service developments now planned or underway. On-going initiatives include increasing child and adolescent in-patient bed provision nationally from 39 to 66 beds by the end of this year, with further expansion due in 2014. Also, 150 additional posts were allocated for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Teams in 2012, and a further 80 posts for this purpose in 2013. A significant number of these posts have been filled, and the HSE is progressing recruitment of the remaining number as a matter of priority.
In general, up to now, children were admitted to child appropriate centres or, in the absence for whatever reason of such facilities, for older children, the latter were admitted to adult units if this was the only viable care option. The provision of additional bed capacity in recent times reflects, for children 16 -18 years reflects an almost 50% decrease in admission of children to adult units since 2008.
Under Mental Health Commission guidelines, admission of 17-18 year olds to adult units is permitted in circumstances where a child and adolescent bed is not available, and where admission to such a bed is determined to be in the best interest of the young person. Where admission to an adult unit is required, liaison between the relevant community team, the adult team and the in-patient unit is maintained to ensure the best possible outcomes for the young person concerned. It should be noted also that, in 2012, the HSE finalised "Access Protocols for 16 and 17 year olds to Mental Health Services", which came into effect from 1 January this year. In an effort to ensure that children are treated in an age appropriate manner, the new protocols provide that from 1 January, 2013, CAMHS accept referrals of all new cases of children up to their 17th birthday, and from 1 January 2014 referrals will be accepted for all new cases up to age 18.
I have asked the HSE to provide a detailed reply to the Deputy in relation to mental health facilities, as raised in this question, and also to reply in respect of services provided by the Executive concerning Asperger’s Syndrome.