Psychiatric detentions at almost four a week

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Alarming new evidence has emerged of the mental anguish experienced by local people with the number of forced admissions under the Mental Health Act increasing from 178 last year to 190 in 2015/16.

The Bluestone Unit at Craigavon Area Hospital recorded the second highest number, 175, of patients made to accept hospital treatment for mental illness in the whole of Northern Ireland, only overtaken by Holywell’s total of 236.

The number of patients detained under the Mental Health Act in the Southern Health Trust, which includes the Dungannon District, has now risen to almost four cases every week.

Compulsory admissions are used in crisis situations to detain a patient deemed to need urgent care or treatment.

Across Northern Ireland, 30 children (under the age of 18) were detained under the act.

The figures, which were released this week by the Department of Health, come in the aftermath of the latest suicide statistics, which reveal that the number of people taking their own lives has increased by almost a fifth in Northern Ireland.

The children’s commissioner said the total of local young people who have taken their own lives remained too high and the tally of youngsters self-harming has risen sharply.

Koulla Yiasouma urged greater government investment in promoting emotional wellbeing.

She said: “Behind every suicide statistic is a tragic loss of a life and devastated families and friends.

“Suicide is a highly complex issue to which there are no easy solutions. The legacy of the conflict and high levels of deprivation and mental ill-health create a uniquely challenging set of circumstances for Northern Ireland.”

A spokesperson for the Southern Trust said in relation to the figures: “The Trust provides a comprehensive range of hospital and community-based mental health services.”