27% rise in children being admitted to A&E after self-harm in Western Trust

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The number of children presenting at A&E after self-harming increased by 27 per cent in the Western Trust over the past three years, whilst the number of anti-depressants dispensed here since 2010/11 increased by 32 per cent, it’s been revealed.

The Health Minister Simon Hamilton revealed that the number of people, aged under 18, who were admitted to emergency care departments after self-harming in the Western Trust rose from 221 in 2012/13, to 280 in 2014/15.

He explained that the number of presentations did not equate to the number of people, as a person may have presented more than once during a single year.

Meanwhile, back in 2010/11 305,096 anti-depressants were dispensed in the Western Trust but the figure has risen every year since and by 2014/15, 403,808 were being dispensed here annually.

Despite the 98,712 increase the overall ‘gross ingredient cost’ decreased during the same period. Back in 2010/11 the cost was put at £2.7m but that had fallen to £1.83m last year. The figures refer to the number and cost of anti-depressant items dispensed by a community pharmacist, dispensing doctor or appliance supplier, and presented for payment.

Health Minister Simon Hamilton released the figures in response to a query from outgoing SDLP MLA Fearghal McKinney.

Last September the Sentinel reported how the Western Trust was recruiting staff for two talking therapy hubs to try to wean Londonderry and the authority’s southern jurisdiction off anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication.

Mr Hamilton had said then that: “The Western Trust is currently recruiting staff for the Primary Care Talking Therapy Hubs in both its northern and southern sectors.”

He added: “The Health and Social Care Board is at the start of a five year plan to establish Primary Care Talking Therapies Hubs across each Trust area. The Hubs will focus on providing a range of psychological therapies (such as counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy and psychotherapy) and lifestyle support for people who are experiencing common mental health problems. The Hubs are being developed around General Practice and when fully developed will improve access to earlier support and care. An initial investment of £1.4m has been made to support the establishment of the Hubs, which will extend the range and scope of psychological therapies available across mental health services.”

If you’re in distress or despair, call Lifeline free on 0808 808 8000. Calls are free. (Textphone: 18001 808 8000)

Helpful Organisations: Samaritans 028 7126 5511 or 08457 909090; GP Out of Hours 028 7186 5195; Zest Suicide and Self Harm 028 7126 6999