Psychiatry is broken down into a number of specialty areas related to both age and diagnosis. These specialties are concerned with assessment, diagnosis and management in the following areas:

  1. General Adult Psychiatry: persons presenting with a mental illness aged between 18 and 65 years
  2. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Moderate to severe mental health problems in children and young adults from birth up to the age of 18
  3. Psychiatry of Learning Disability: People with mental illness associated with intellectual disability
  4. Psychiatry of Old Age/Later Life: Those who develop mental illness over the age of 65
  5. Other sub-specialties include Forensic Psychiatry and Rehabilitation and Recovery, Liaison Psychiatry.
  6. There are other areas where service is delivered by Clinical Programmes, standardising the model of care. These include Eating Disorders, Self-Harm, Early intervention in Psychosis, Perinatal Psychiatry and Substance Misuse.

Psychiatry Service Delivery

In general terms, specialist mental health services are provided to serve a particular group within the population, based on their stage of life (HSE, 2017). Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) serve young people aged up to 18 years; general adult services are for those aged 18 to 64 years and psychiatry of later life provides services for those aged 65 years and over.

The specialty of psychiatry is practiced across acute hospital and community settings including acute inpatient units, day hospitals, out-patient clinics, mental health of intellectual disability, continuing care and community residential services, as well as in research and academic settings. Within the main specialties, certain sub-specialities including rehabilitation and recovery, liaison psychiatry, addiction and perinatal psychiatry are provided. A national forensic mental health service is also provided, including inpatient and in-reach prison services.

A consultant psychiatrist usually works in a psychiatric hospital or unit or as part of a community care team but they can also be part of a private practice. Consultant psychiatrists typically work within a multidisciplinary team of other mental health professionals including psychologists, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, and others. Peer support workers are also core to this multi-disciplinary team. This team is led by a consultant psychiatrist.

Across Ireland, Community Health Organisations (CHO’s) provide mental health services for their respective catchment populations. Across all specialties of psychiatry, multidisciplinary Community Mental Health Teams (CMHT's), led by a consultant psychiatrist, are core to service delivery in the community and provide care to service users across the lifespan from childhood to adulthood.