For a parent or carer of a child with a mental health condition, it can be a very upsetting and challenging time.
We spoke to Kim from East Sussex, whose daughter was 11 years old when she first started experiencing difficulties with her mental health: “My daughter was being bullied at school which made her become withdrawn and understandably, very upset. She then started feeling anxious and having panic attacks.
“To try and figure out what was going on I went into her school on numerous occasions and also went to the doctor, who said that though she was depressed, she was too young for medication and that we should try counselling sessions through the school nurse.
“There unfortunately wasn’t a school nurse at her school at the time and it took two years of going to the doctors a few times a week before we were given the details for a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) drop-in service.
“After going to the drop-in we were supported really well by CAMHS and Discovery College, which offers free courses for children and young people who have/are experiencing mental health difficulties. As part of Discovery College she also attended monthly ‘woodland sessions’, which are days out in the woods for young people and families to enjoy nature and learn new skills together. This made her feel validated and like she was part of a group which has really helped her with her self-esteem.
We asked Kim what this experience has been like for her and the family: “It's been a long traumatic journey and at times it's felt like there was no help. But once we found out about the CAMHS and accessed it we started to feel like we were getting the professional help we needed.
“By taking part in different activities and projects it has helped my daughter to feel valued and important. It has also helped her get back to being a more confident person like she was before. She still has depression and sometimes has very anxious thoughts but she is able to bounce back more quickly afterwards."
Following her experience, we asked Kim what advice she would give to other parents: “Though it took us a while to find the right service for her, once we did, our daughter started to get help and began to feel better. So don’t give up – keep trying until you find the support you are looking for.”
If you are worried about a child or young person and their mental health go to your GP, or for more information about the services that Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation provides for children and young people, go to www.sussexcamhs.nhs.uk or www.hampshirecamhs.nhs.uk.