Jump in COVID admissions to psychiatric hospital

Restrictions putting major pressure on people
  • Deborah Condon

One of the country's busiest psychiatric hospitals has recorded a big increase in admissions related to COVID-19.

St John Of God Hospital in Stillorgan, Dublin, currently provides specialist services in a number of areas, including eating disorders, psychotic disorders and substance misuse.

It has revealed that in the last month alone, 50% of admissions to the hospital have been related to COVID-19 anxiety and restrictions. It said there has been a "dramatic increase" in admissions from new and existing patients who are struggling with issues related to social isolation, mood and anxiety disorders, and addiction.

A number of healthcare workers have also been admitted to the hospital with work-related stress.

"We have already seen a significant increase in admissions relating to intense pressure that COVID-19 restrictions are placing on people. In the past month alone, half of admissions to the hospital have been specifically related to the impact of these restrictions and we are anticipating the increase will continue in the weeks and months ahead as the immediate crisis begins to stabilise and the country begins to reopen," explained the hospital's CEO, Emma Balmaine.

She said that current admission patterns suggest that people with long-standing mental health issues "may need increased support at this time".

"But we are also seeing a lot of new referrals from people experiencing mental health challenges as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Additional planning will need to be done in order to prepare for the surge in demand for mental health services from within the hospital and at Government level," Ms Balmaine insisted.

According to the hospital's head of psychology, Fergal Rooney, it is clear from recent admissions that the COVID-19 crisis "is having a big impact on people's mental health and wellbeing".

"Sadly, we are seeing a marked increase in the number of admissions for people who are unable to tolerate the severe social restrictions currently in place. We have also seen an increase in the number of patients presenting with new or previous addictions, and those struggling with anxiety-related disorders," he commented.

The hospital has introduced a number of ways to support new and current patients during this time, including virtual clinics and virtual day care packages for patients who are particularly at risk, such as those with eating disorders.

For more information on the hospital, click here.


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