North’s suicide services ‘not good enough’, says Minister — (Irish Examiner)

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Irish Examiner

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 – 01:51 PM

 Stormont Health Minister Michael McGimpsey today vowed to ensure young people receive proper mental health services after admitting they were not good enough.

His comments came after a damning report from an independent panel criticised how the North and West Belfast Trust handled the case of a teenager who committed suicide.

The review into the events leading to the suicide of 18-year-old Danny McCartan from north Belfast two years ago found serious failings in the care provided to him by the trust.

Mr McCartan had had a history of depression and self harm and had been on anti-depressants from the age of 16.

His care was transferred to an early intervention team in the trust in December 2005 when he turned 18.

He committed suicide in April 2005 after his request to be admitted to hospital was turned down.

An independent review panel, commissioned by former Northern Ireland Office minister Shaun Woodward to look into the case, made six recommendations.

The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust which has swallowed up the North and West Belfast Trust have apologised to the family – one of the six recommendations of the report – following their concerns about how Danny’s case was managed.

The panel also recommended:

* An immediate review by the trust of the incidence of teenagers being admitted to adult psychiatric units, with all steps being taken to avoid this course of action.

* A review by the Eastern Health and Social Services Board of the provision of community and inpatient mental health services for adolescents.

* A probe into the need for specific crisis services for teenagers and young adults at risk of suicide, taking account of the regional suicide strategy.

* An examination by the trust of the information released to the public, especially teenagers and their families, about mental health and addiction services, with a special strategy to provide information in a targeted way to those suffering from mental health difficulties.

* A review and the prioritisation of training and information for staff at all levels who encounter adolescents, young people and families seeking advice and assistance on mental health.

Mr McGimpsey revealed today he intended to meet the McCartan family soon and acknowledged the devastating impact Danny’s death had had on them.

“It is clear that child and adolescent mental health services are not good enough,” the minister admitted.

“Suicide levels, particularly among young people, are rising and many young people are suffering from mental health problems.

“To help them we must have the right services in place to treat and support them as quickly as possible.

“I will be thoroughly examining this report to determine what lessons need to be learned.

“I will also want to be assured that appropriate actions are being taken to address problems identified and to improve services for children and adolescents.

“Tackling this issue and ensuring that improved services for children and adolescents are available is one of my key priorities.

“I am committed to building on the work that has already been done and to further improve services, in line with the recommendations arising from the Bamford Review.