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Globally, increasing life expectancy has escalated demands on psychiatric services caring for a later life population. It is recognised that those with enduring mental illness may have specific needs with advancing age. In this study, we describe the characteristics of a population aged over 60 years attending a general adult community psychiatric service and compare demographic and clinical features across age and diagnostic categories. The study aims to gather preliminary information which may guide future local mental health service planning.
We conducted a cross-sectional observational study using retrospective chart review of all patients aged over 60 years attending four community mental health teams in North Dublin. Cohorts of attenders were stratified by age comparing 60–64 year age group with the population aged 65 years and over. Attenders were also stratified by diagnosis and regression analysis was used to determine predictors of psychotic disorder diagnosis.
The study included 127 patients. There was a higher prevalence of psychotic disorders among those aged 65 years and over (n = 73), while those aged 60–64 years (n = 54) were more likely to have depression and non-affective, non-psychotic disorders. Among the population aged 65 years and over 78% (n = 57) were long-term psychiatric service attenders.
The majority of the sample aged 65 years and over were long-term service attenders with a diagnosis of severe mental illness. Further research is warranted to determine optimal service delivery for later life psychiatric service attenders.
Migration is an established risk factor for developing a psychotic disorder in countries with a long history of migration. Less is known for countries with only a recent history of migration. This study aimed to determine the risk for developing a psychotic disorder in migrants to the Republic of Ireland.
We included all presentations of first-episode psychosis over 8.5 years to the DETECT Early Intervention for psychosis service in the Republic of Ireland (573 individuals aged 18–65, of whom 22% were first-generation migrants). Psychotic disorder diagnosis relied on SCID. The at-risk population was calculated using census data, and negative binomial regression was used to estimate incidence rate ratios.
The annual crude incidence rate for a first-episode psychotic disorder in the total cohort was 25.62 per 100000 population at risk. Migrants from Africa had a nearly twofold increased risk for developing a psychotic disorder compared to those born in the Republic of Ireland (IRR = 1.83, 95% CI 1.11–3.02, p = 0.02). In contrast, migrants from certain Asian countries had a reduced risk, specifically those from China, India, Philippines, Pakistan, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Hong Kong (aIRR = 0.36, 95% CI 0.16–0.81, p = 0.01).
Further research into the reasons for this inflated risk in specific migrant groups could produce insights into the aetiology of psychotic disorders. This information should also be used, alongside other data on environmental risk factors that can be determined from census data, to predict the incidence of psychotic disorders and thereby resource services appropriately.
The novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) has spread worldwide threatening human health. To reduce transmission, a ‘lockdown’ was introduced in Ireland between March-May 2020. The aim of this study is to capture the experiences of Consultant Psychiatrists during lockdown and their perception of it’s impact on Mental Health Services.
A questionnaire designed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists was adapted and circulated to Consultant members of the College of Psychiatrists following the easing of restrictions. The questionnaire assessed the perceived impact on referral rates, mental health act provision, availability of Information Technology (IT), consultant well-being and availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Thematic analysis was employed to analyse free-text sections.
Response rate was 32% (N=197/623). Consultants reported an initial decrease/significant decrease in referrals in the first month of lockdown (68%, N=95/140) followed by an increase/significant increase in the second month for both new (83%, N=100/137) and previously attending patients (65%, N=88/136). Social isolation and reduced face-to-face mental health supports were among the main reasons identified. The needs of children and older adults were highlighted. Most consultants (76%, N=98/129) felt their working day was affected and their well-being reduced (52%, N=61/119). The majority felt IT equipment availability was inadequate (67%, N=88/132). Main themes identified from free-text sections were service management, relationship between patients and healthcare service and effects on consultants’ lives.
The COVID19 pandemic has placed increased pressure on service provision and consultant wellness. This further supports the longstanding need to increase mental health service investment in Ireland.
Webinars have recently replaced in-person medical conferences, including paediatric cardiology conferences, given the COVID-19 pandemic.
With increasing environmental concerns, we analysed the differences between the environmental footprint of a paediatric cardiology webinar with a hypothetical conference. Travel data was collected, with assumptions made on the amount of computer use, internet use and accordingly the overall use of electricity for both forms of conference. Life Cycle Assessment methodology was used (OpenLCA and Ecovinvent v 3.7).
We showed that the theoretical environmental impact of a virtual conference is significantly less (4 tons CO2 equivalent) than the traditional international face-to-face conference (192 tons CO2 equivalent). The life cycle assessment methodology showed that resource use for a face-to-face conference lasting 2.5 days for 1374 attendees is equivalent to 400 times what an average person would use in one year, the climate change and photochemical ozone formation approximately 250 times and the eutrophication terrestrial equivalent to 225 times. However, using carbon equivalent emissions to measure environmental harm from flying is an under estimate of the potential damage, when one considers the additional production of airplane contrails. Notwithstanding this, there is a 98% reduction in climate change impact when meetings are held virtually.
While the virtual conference may never completely replace the traditional in-person paediatric cardiology conference, due to networking benefits, the significant theoretical benefits to the environment highlighted in this study, warrants consideration for the virtual conference taking a more common place in sustainable academia.
When presenting with a first episode of psychosis (FEP), migrants can have different demographic and clinical characteristics to the native-born population and this was examined in an Irish Early Intervention for Psychosis service.
All cases of treated FEP from three local mental health services within a defined catchment area were included. Psychotic disorder diagnoses were determined using the SCID and symptom and functioning domains were measured using validated and reliable measures.
From a cohort of 612 people, 21.1% were first-generation migrants and there was no difference in the demographic characteristics, diagnoses, symptoms or functioning between migrants and those born in the Republic of Ireland, except that migrants from Africa presented with less insight. Of those admitted, 48.6% of admissions for migrants were involuntary compared to 37.7% for the native-born population (p = 0.09).
First-generation migrants now make up a significant proportion of people presenting with a FEP to an Irish EI for psychosis service. Broadly the demographic and clinical characteristics of migrants and those born in the Republic of Ireland are similar, except for less insight in migrants from Africa and a trend for a higher proportion of involuntary admissions in the total migrant group.
COVID-19 continues to exert unprecedented challenges for society and it is now well recognised that mental health is a key healthcare issue related to the pandemic. The current edition of the Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine focusses on the impact of COVID-19 on mental illness by combining historical review papers, current perspectives and original research. It is important that psychiatrists leading mental health services in Ireland continue to advocate for mental health supports for healthcare workers and their patients, while aiming to deliver services flexibly. As the pandemic evolves, it remains to be seen whether the necessary funding to deliver effective mental healthcare will be allocated to psychiatric services. Ongoing service evaluation and research is needed as the myriad impacts of the pandemic continue to evolve. In a time of severe budgetary constraints, ensuring optimum use of scare resources becomes an imperative.
Youth mental health is a rapidly developing field with a focus on prevention, early identification, treatment innovation and service development. In this perspective piece, we discuss the effects of COVID-19 on young people’s mental health. The psychosocial effects of COVID-19 disproportionately affect young people. Both immediate and longer-term factors through which young people are affected include social isolation, changes to the delivery of therapeutic services and almost complete loss of all structured occupations (school, work and training) within this population group. Longer-term mechanisms include the effects of the predicted recession on young people’s mental health. Opportunities within this crisis exist for service providers to scale up telehealth and digital services that may benefit service provision for young people’s mental health in the future.
With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed the greatest global challenge in a generation. The full extent of the mental health impact is, as yet, unknown, but is anticipated to be severe and enduring. In this Special Issue dedicated to mental health and the COVID-19 pandemic, we aim to lay the foundation for an improved understanding of how COVID-19 is affecting mental health services both in Ireland and globally. This Special Issue highlights how the mental health effects of COVID-19 stretch to almost every element of society. The issue includes perspectives from several countries across multiple disciplines and healthcare settings. The drive for rapid innovation and service development is clearly evident throughout and provides hope that by working collaboratively we can positively impact population mental health in the months and years ahead.
In response to the global pandemic COVID-19, the Irish government has called upon the Garda Síochána to implement an unparalleled mode of policing to mitigate and contain the spread of the Coronavirus. Studies investigating smaller scale epidemics, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), indicate that staff at the frontlines of an outbreak are exposed to an insuperable amount of stress and experience increased psychological morbidities as a result. Furthermore, research not only indicates that heighted levels of psychological distress are an occupational hazard associated with the law enforcement profession, but that members of the Garda Síochána feel their mental health needs are largely unmet by their organisation. Given the pandemic’s propensity to expose officers to indeterminate echelons of physical and psychological threat; there has never been a more appropriate time to explore the potential burdens associated with ‘policing’ a pandemic, question the governments capacity to address the psychological support needs of frontline professionals, and plan future research for best practice.
The COVID-19 pandemic poses a particular set of challenges for health services. Some of these are common across all services (e.g. strategies to minimise infections; timely testing for patients and staff; and sourcing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)) and some are specific to mental health services (e.g. how to access general medical services quickly; how to safely deliver a service that traditionally depends on intensive face to face contact; how to isolate someone who does not wish to do so; and how to source sufficient PPE in the face of competing demands for such equipment). This paper describes how St Patrick’s Mental Health Services (SPMHS) chose to address this unfolding and ever-changing crisis, how it developed its strategy early based on a clear set of objectives and how it adapted (and continues to adapt) to the constantly evolving COVID-19 landscape.