Early intervention vital to prevent psychiatric inpatient admissions

The alarming rise in psychiatric inpatient admissions for children and adolescents presenting with eating disorders requires an immediate Government response, according to Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns.

Deputy Cairns made her comments after figures from the Health Research Board’s (HRB) National Psychiatric Inpatient Reporting System revealed that such admissions increased from 33 in 2018 to 116 in 2021.

“According to the HRB’s report, females accounted for 96 percent of admissions relating to an eating disorder diagnosis, so we know this is predominantly an issue that affects women.

“The more than three-fold rise in admissions is very worrying, but hardly surprising given there was no funding for the eating disorder treatment plan. Of the €1.6 million allocated in 2019, none of it was spent, with no budget set aside for 2020.

“This is an area that is constantly under-resourced, despite eating disorders being among the psychiatric conditions most associated with mortality.

“The lack of investment in this area means people often have to go to the UK for treatment, paid for by the State, while others are forced to spend thousands on private care.

“There are also wider issues to be addressed. We need greater interventions at primary care level to prevent these situations escalating to inpatient admissions. While GPs also require more resources and supports, there is a glaring need for mental health social workers to be integrated into schools and colleges.

“Research has consistently shown the pressures young women are put under through unrealistic representations of bodies on the internet. Social media companies, some of which are based in Dublin, have serious responsibilities in this regard and should be held to account.”

October 5, 2022

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