Tuesday, 29 June 2004
Dáil Eireann Debate
307. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent of the use of antidepressant pills among young persons and children here; his views on whether the extent of usage of such pills is excessive and inappropriate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19359/04]
Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Mr. T. O’Malley): Prescriptions are issued by health professionals based on the symptoms of the presenting patient at the time of consultation. The level of medication prescribed, therefore, is a matter of clinical decision for the particular doctor involved. Prescriptions for anti-depressants may be issued by either general practitioners or consultants in a variety of locations, for example, general practice, community psychiatric facilities or private or public psychiatric hospitals.
Statistics on the extent of the use of antidepressants among young persons and children are not available. Figures provided by the General Medical Services (Payments) Board for the year ending 31 December 2003 show that 205,764 medical cardholders were prescribed anti-depressants in that year. A total of 1,178 people were prescribed anti-depressants under the long-term illness scheme while statistics for the drugs payment scheme, DPS, indicate that 92,022 people were prescribed anti-depressants.
The future direction and delivery of all aspects of our mental health services will be considered in the context of the work of expert group on mental health policy which was established in August 2003 to prepare a new national policy framework for the mental health services, updating the 1984 policy document, Planning for the Future. It is expected that the expert group will report in 2005.
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