Depression in Ireland and a visit home – a tale of proximity

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Quay Street, Galway

Post by Dr Karyn Morrissey

For the last three days (28th-30th of August ), I have been at the 41st British-Irish Regional Science Association Conference, hosted at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Hailing from Galway, I was doubly excited to present my findings at such an important conference and have my Mom and Dad pander to my every need for a few days!

The paper I presented reported on my research on admissions to acute psychiatric hospitals for depression in Ireland.  Ireland has traditionally reported high levels of mental illness and admissions to acute psychiatric hospitals. Indeed, at the turn of the 20th Century, 1% of 15 to 35 year old males were housed in a mental ‘asylum’ in Ireland. These high rates of reported psychiatric illness are what prompted my research.

My research sought to determine the factors which differentiate individuals with depression who seek acute psychiatric services from those who do not seek these services. Using spatial microsimulation techniques my research found that within my sample of individuals with depression, females, older individuals, those with higher education and interestingly those closer to a psychiatric hospital were more likely to be admitted to an acute psychiatric hospital. This would indicate that access to psychiatric services is a determinate in whether individuals seek acute help. Such a finding is interesting for two reasons – it may demonstrate that individuals without services are experiencing a service gap, but it may also indicate that living closer to an acute service leads to over utilisation and over-referral. So Geography matters in this relationship.

Thus, whilst happy that my research shows an interesting relationship between proximity to acute care and the uptake of these services – this research also shows that there is a lot more work to be done to understand these differences in access to psychiatric care and to address inequalities here.

So it’s back to the drawing board…and back to the internet to look for my next conference in Galway!

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