I’ll go first.
Anxiety. Depression. OCD.
I lovingly refer to them as my mental threesome. Every single day I deal with an aspect of these 3, usually a combination of all 3 together as they all thrive off each other, one gives the other a leg up so to speak. I hate it. I’m jealous of people who have never been afflicted. There is only one thing more terrifying than me suffering from mental health issues and that’s my children suffering too.
Panorama this week was Kids in Crisis. Children with mental health problems unable to access the right help at the right time. It broke my heart, not just for the children but also their desperate families.
We all worry about our kids well-being, that’s our jobs as parents but knowing the scales are tipped in Reilly’s favour makes me sick to my stomach. He’s already earmarked just by being autistic, for many autistic people mental health problems go hand in hand such as anxiety, OCD and depression.
A US study found autistic people die at an average age of just 36.
Why? well there are many factors that contribute to this. Suicide being prevalent and also death by injury, drowning is a massive factor. Autistic people are more likely to suffer from diabetes, heart disease, gastro problems, lack of sleep, bullying etc to name a few.
So where parents like myself go for help for our kids?
CAMHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services is the NHS service that assesses and treats young people with emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties. Kids in Crisis looked at the horrific waiting times that children have to wait to be seen. The service is overstretched and rejecting more children than ever. How sick does a child have to be before they get help? suicide ideation, self harm, numerous suicide attempts? Apparently so. I have been in contact with people who have said they have had a brilliant experience with CAMHS but they are few and far between. The reality is there are families in despair waiting for their children to be deemed ill enough to receive help.
Early help and intervention is crucial. Years spent on waiting lists exasperates some conditions. Conditions are allowed to escalate to breaking point where the child has become very ill indeed sometimes making numerous attempts on their lives. Children trying to take their own lives.
A broken leg would attract instant help, why not our mental health?
These are my worries for the future and millions more families just like ours. Mental health needs more investment NOW. Speak up, speak out. Not just for more investment – 1% of the current NHS budget just isn’t enough, but talking about mental health is a way to make kids feel like they aren’t alone.
Funding in the North East is being cut left, right and centre. Counselling services in schools now considered a strain on a stretched school budget but at what price?.
How can we expect children to talk about mental health when everyone around them remain so guarded.