Young lives are being destroyed by a lack of mental health support | Letters

Our children and young people are facing mental health challenges on an unprecedented scale (Editorial, 6 November). Tragically, there seems to be little meaningful action being taken in response. My 17-year-old son died by suicide last year. We had spent over a year trying to secure adequate help for him – it never came. Even after his mental health disintegrated badly enough to lead to two suicide attempts, he languished on a waiting list.

The “talking therapy” that he eventually received was inadequate, the oversight of his case shambolic, and my repeated attempts to sound the alarm were recorded as the reactions of an anxious mother. Communication failures, dismissive attitudes, and “care” that was provided almost entirely by phone or online meant that no one took overall responsibility and no one got to know this struggling boy well enough to uncover his desperation. I now have to spend the rest of my life bearing his loss.

Why is the proper, timely treatment of youngsters not an absolute priority to this government? Every preventable death is a tragic loss, not only to the family, but also to society.
Name and address supplied

I can only confirm from our own experience how broken the system is. Our child waited for over two years to be seen by the child and adolescent mental health service (Camhs), with our GP unable to prescribe antidepressants due to Nice guidelines. During this period, their mental health steadily deteriorated, with an escalating cycle of self-harm. By the time they could finally access Camhs, they were experiencing suicidal ideation in addition to anxiety and depression. Our child is 14. To say that all of us became desperate seems like an understatement. There are no adequate words to describe the worry experienced on behalf of a vulnerable child.

This experience is being lived by thousands of children and their families, so it is not surprising that in some cases, we see the ultimate tragedy being played out. Our children are silent victims of governmental failure on an epic scale. My heart goes out to everyone across the country who is waiting for help. You are not alone.
Name and address supplied

Our eldest daughter started self-harming in early 2020, and did so constantly through the next two years. She has large keloid scars that she will carry for the rest of her life. The scars that my husband and I, and her sister bear are emotional, and I am not sure when they will heal.

This crisis began just as the ability of her school or Camhs to offer meaningful support was shattered by lockdown and then crippled for over 18 months. Visit after visit to A&E, several admissions to hospital, assessment after assessment by Camhs, with no meaningful follow-up. She asked me: “Why do people ask me all these questions if nobody helps me?”

We’re in a better place now, largely due to a Camhs programme begun 10 months ago. I value this, but I remain angry that we were left in the wind for a year and a half.
Name and address supplied

My 17-year-old daughter was referred to Camhs in September 2019 as her secondary school refused to accept her ADHD diagnosis from Canada and make appropriate accommodations, and our GP couldn’t continue to prescribe her medication without a Camhs appointment in the pipeline. Thirteen months later, we were finally seen for the first time. Next week is our last appointment, as with a sigh of relief they kick us forward in the system as my daughter turns 18 and we will be someone else’s problem.

Each time, she was forced to open up afresh about depression and anxiety to a new doctor (eight appointments, seven doctors). Are they counting that as talk therapy? Not one piece of meaningful advice about coping with or overcoming ADHD, let alone depression and anxiety. Not so much as a DIY book recommendation. “What can we do for you?” they ask my mortified child every time. They need her to say she’s not suicidal (today) so they can tick the box and escort us out.
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