Irish child and adolescent psychiatry is organized as a Faculty under The College of Psychiatry of Ireland, which is the professional body for psychiatrists in Ireland and the sole body recognized by the Medical Council and the HSE (Irish Public Health Services) for competence assurance and training in psychiatry.
Focus on establishing an independent national College was to reach a greater identity and also raise its own profile and awareness. Moving out of the Royal College and establish an Irish College of Psychiatry has been important and successful to the position and strength of Irish psychiatry.
In 2006 the child and adolescent Faculty of the College produced a document that was called: ‘A Blueprint for child and adolescent mental health services’ which was the college’s submission to the national mental health policy, which was called ‘A Vision for Change’.
The Child and Adolescent Faculty published that document and received a lot of media attention. Dr Brendan Doody (Clinical Senior Lecturer at Trinity College, former ESCAP Board member and advisor to the Irish Government) was involved in this process. He found that it is important that there is an interest at a public level and at a political level about young people and about young people’s mental health. Dr Doody: “Being the College of Psychiatry it proved to be important that we provided information to that debate. By doing that we raised our profile. Which is secondary, but it certainly served our cause as well: emphasizing the importance of mental wellbeing for children. They are our future.”
“There has to be a recognition that mental health and psychological wellbeing is integral to general wellbeing. By providing information to politicians and the general public there will be a greater understanding.”
An Irish newspaper reported a few years ago the numbers of young people attending mental health services. That launched a huge reaction in politics both as amongst the general public. Doody: “This just showed that we actually offer a very important service. Anyone is impressed by the fact that a lot of young people access the service, and recognize that this is a service that needs investment.”
At this moment there is no real scientific knowledge infrastructure for sharing knowledge between Irish child and adolescent psychiatrists. The Faculty is working towards that. Priority is momentarily given to the availability of information on a service level. “First we want to assure the standards, like a high consistency that is it predictable, so child psychiatrists can rely on the same quality of service everywhere in the country. A service with a single, trusted identity. Based on evidence informed practice”, says Brendan Doody.
“The next step from that will be developing the clinical programs and the knowledge that will form the interventions.”
“The Irish government focuses on throughput of cases. The health service is looking for efficiency. The practitioners on the ground are concerned that this drive for efficiency will have an impact on quality and effectiveness. Now, we have to look at both sides. Yes: the services need to be efficient and effective. But the only way to do that is by offering a high quality: we have to look at the evidence, we have to share our knowledge – surely on a European level too. In other words: we have to move from a service that is just efficient to a service that is also effective. Always, everywhere.”
“The challenge must be: how do we provide the maximum amount of service to the maximum amount of people. This must be done effectively and efficiently. That is where the government and the Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry will come to a consensus.”
Read more about The College of Psychiatry of Ireland in ECAP, the official journal of the European Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Volume 22, Number 6, June 2013, pages 385-386.