“They didn’t consider me sick enough.” the crisis in children’s mental health services

Without urgent action, health workers predict that community waiting lists for children and young people will more than double by next year following the pandemic.

By: Ashish Joshi, Health Correspondent @ashishskynews:

Sunday, 19 November 2023, 03:42, UK

Mia was just 10 years old when she and her family knew she needed mental health support.

But their attempts to get help were met with delays and denials that caused her condition to deteriorate so severely that it almost cost Mia her life.

“They didn’t think I was sick enough, they told me I was fine and there was nothing wrong with me,” Mia explains. “I told them this is not normal, and they didn’t listen.”

But Mia struggled. His mental health was deteriorating and would eventually reach a crisis point.

“Until I was 12, I was self-harming. I felt like I couldn’t make it through the day for a few days, but I still did well academically, and when you’re a kid in this country, that’s what they do. celebrate your well-being.”

It was when Mia turned 15 that help finally came, but only after she had a breakdown. He was arrested for false imprisonment and criminal damage after assaulting his teacher and ended up in a psychiatric ward.

Mia believes earlier intervention would have prevented her worsening crisis.

Mia has started climbing

“I would kill myself. I would kill. Mental health care saves lives, just as heart care saves lives, just as diabetes care saves lives. You can’t live a healthy, happy life if you’re mentally ill without support.”

Mia’s story of her struggle to get timely mental health care exposes a system in crisis. Children and young adults across the country face long waits for specialist care, and the demand continues to grow.

NHS England estimates that a quarter of all 17 to 19-year-olds now have a possible mental health disorder, compared to one in 10 six years ago.

David Barker and his team at Youth Talk offer free confidential advice to young people aged 13 to 25.

But they are inundated with record numbers of children and young people who need help.

The charity has doubled its capacity, but even that is not enough.

Mr Barker told Sky News: “While the pandemic was a crisis of young people struggling with their mental health, the pandemic has magnified all of that, and as a result, we’re seeing the long tail of the COVID pandemic. in terms of mental health and especially for young people.”

Community health services are also struggling. The NHS Providers survey found that children now wait an average of 91 weeks for an Autism Spectrum Disorder assessment and between 72 and 207 weeks for an ADHD assessment.

Read more:
Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, isn’t just the “winter blues.”
Student mental health problems have nearly tripled in recent years, study finds

Jenna Hughes talks to Sky News

Jenna Hughes had to wait three years for the diagnosis of her eldest child, Amelia.

Her youngest, Imogen, has been waiting for a year. Caring for Amelia and Imogen without any extra help takes its toll on everyone in the family.

“I’ve struggled with my mental health,” Jenna says. “Because of the level of care my children need. It’s hard on my family. The NHS is overburdened but it puts so much pressure on families and so much strain and stress.”

Only an increase in demand is expected.

And unless urgent action is taken, health providers such as Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust predict waiting lists for children and young people in their community will more than double next year following the pandemic.

Its chief executive, Elliott Howard-Jones, said his trust’s biggest challenge in responding to the growing crisis was finding the right staff.

“It’s absolutely not where we want to be, we want a much shorter wait for children, it significantly affects their life chances and educational attainment if we don’t see them quickly.

“The biggest challenge in terms of community services is not the vision of what we want to do, which is clearly to support people at home and help children develop to the best of their ability, it’s getting staff involved and growing services fast enough. can respond.”

Mia is now 21 years old. He is in the final year of a wildlife biology degree at the Royal Veterinary College after passing his A Levels with top marks.

But the outcome could have been very different, and will be for thousands of children still suffering, if the children’s mental health crisis is not urgently addressed.

Anyone experiencing emotional distress or suicidal thoughts can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org. In the US, call your local Samaritans branch or 1 (800) 273-TALK

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Image Source : news.sky.com

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