Work to begin on new mental health unit

A computer-generated image of how the new CAMHS unit will look.
A computer-generated image of how the new CAMHS unit will look.

WORK on the construction of Northern Ireland’s first specialist independent psychiatric hospital for children and young people could get under way near Ballyclare next month.

The long-awaited project, which has been held up by planning and legal issues over the past few years, looks set to finally go ahead after Planning Service this week recommended approval of a revised planning application from Priory Healthcare Group.

The £10million Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) unit will be built within a 14-acre site at Templepatrick Road. It will employ psychiatrists, therapists and other healthcare professionals offering round-the-clock care to 12 - 18 year olds with serious mental health issues.

The unit will provide much-needed facilities for children and teenagers suffering from severe eating disorders, acquired brain injuries and other acute conditions - many of whom are currently forced to travel to other parts of the UK for treatment. It will also be able to take emergency patients outside of normal working hours and offer specialist help to young people at risk of self harm or suicide.

At their monthly Planning and Consultation Committee meeting on Monday evening (October 8), councillors welcomed the approval recommendation on the revised application, which will also allow an Adult Eating Disorder Service - the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland - to be provided at the site.

It’s understood that the contract for building the new unit could be awarded later this month, with work on the project expected to get under way sometime in November.

The Priory Group is hopeful that the new CAMHS unit will be operational by January 2014.

Read the full story in this week’s Times...