The need for an age-appropriate in-patient service for 16- to 17-year-olds led to the development of a 6-bed acute admissions unit in a non-metropolitan county in the UK. We provide a descriptive evaluation of the first 2 years of its operation. All admissions from April 2010 to March 2012 were reviewed, clinical details systematically recorded and descriptively analysed.
Ninety-seven young people were admitted during this period (a third were compulsorily detained under the Mental Health Act 1983). The average length of stay was 3–4 weeks. The most common presenting complaints were self-harm and low mood, usually in the context of life events and childhood adversity. Nearly half had substance misuse and other risk-taking behaviours. A third presented with psychotic symptoms. Adjustment and anxiety disorders were most common, followed by alcohol/substance use disorders, depressive illnesses and psychotic illnesses. Comorbidity was the rule rather than the exception. Most patients improved by the time of discharge.
The unit provides an accessible and effective age-appropriate service and is likely to constitute an important component of the comprehensive child and adolescent mental health service strategy in the county.
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