Concern over closure of local mental health beds
By Maurice Garvey
YOUTH groups in Ballyfermot have expressed concern that the closure of mental health beds in Cherry Orchard Hospital could mean that vulnerable youths will not have access to in-patient services over the summer.
Up to 11 of the 22 beds at the Linn Dara Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service facility were cut by the HSE due to personnel shortages.
The move has not been well received in the area, with objections by local councillors, and a protest taking place outside the facility on Monday by People Before Profit TD’s Brid Smith and Gino Kenny.
Family Matters Area Based Childhood (ABC) in Ballyfermot has been working with youth steering group D10 Be Well to respond to youth mental health issues.
In 2015, they completed research with 770 young people and 80 services in Ballyfermot which discovered that many young people are struggling with anxiety, severe stress and depression.
Worryingly, the survey revealed that many youth are unable to access services, including counsellors, primary care, and specialist services, in a timely manner.
The survey found crisis response and stabilisation services for young people are insufficient, particularly at key times such as evenings and weekends.
Amanda McCoy, Chair of D10 Be Well Youth Steering group said: “We are very concerned about the closure of beds in Linn Dara. These beds are essential for young people in distress, who need more specialist care than the community-based supports can offer. Where will young people who need in-patient care go during the summer months?”
Sinn Féin councillor Daithí Doolan said the “scandalous” cut arrives on recent reports of “children being placed in overcrowded adult wards without even a bed.”
“The idea that we will have fewer beds for young people in mental health distress is shocking,” he said.
Over the last two years Family Matters and D10 Youth Steering Group have been working on a new model to address mental health in the community.
They acknowledge the need to educate young people on the issue, and say inclusion of family members, teachers and youth workers is vital for recovery programmes.
The model focuses on improving care pathways with specialist services for young people who need more specialist support.