Mental Health Provision for Children with a Learning Disability

External Affairs & Policy

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This report was completed by the Faculty of Learning Disability Psychiatry to outline current mental health service provision for children in the moderate to severe/profound range of intellectual disability in Ireland and to make recommendations for future service developments.

The increased prevalence of psychiatric disorders in children with intellectual disability cited in this paper highlights the need for a specialist mental health service.

In response to a recent survey conducted by this subgroup, the number of consultant child psychiatrists working in the area of intellectual disability in Ireland was estimated at 3.61. This falls far short of the number recommended in A Vision for Change (Department of Health 2006). In A Vision for Change, the number of child psychiatrists recommended in this specialty was 1 per 300,000 population. These services are being delivered by a number of consultant psychiatrists with a part-time commitment to children with an intellectual disability.

They are not community based and are being delivered in a fragmented way by consultant child psychiatrists working without the support of mental health teams.

There is no Higher Specialist Training Programme for child psychiatrists who want to train in learning disability. There is no national database for child psychiatric services in learning disability.

In spite of the recommendations in A Vision for Change, no funding has been made available to implement these recommendation (Health Service Executive, 2009). This group supports the recommendations of A Vision for Change but it would view these as a minimum requirement only. Further recommendations have been made in this report.