My experience of supporting my child through depression

It’s Children’s Mental Health Week and we are looking at the different people in a young person’s life that contribute to supporting them, their mental health and emotional wellbeing.

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 Eileen (not her real name) from Eastbourne, a mother of a young person who started to experience mental health difficulties at the age of 11: “My daughter was in her first year of secondary school when she started suffering from anxiety. The onset was very sudden and began escalating at a terrifying speed. Over the course of the next few months she became severely depressed. She stopped speaking, would not eat, started to self-harm and was having thoughts of ending her life.

“Extremely concerned we made an appointment with our GP who said that there was nothing they could do. Undeterred and desperate to find help we arranged for her to have Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) privately. This was unfortunately not what she needed and she continued to get worse and was later hospitalised. It was at this time that she was referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) in Hailsham.

“During her treatment with CAMHS she saw a psychiatrist and a counsellor, as well as the emergency care team at Chalkhill hospital in Haywards Heath. She also took part in courses with Discovery College with other people her age that had similar experiences to her. The care she received was second to none and I really believe that she wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the work of these incredibly dedicated people. This includes those who run the Discovery courses, which have been hugely helpful for my daughter.”

We asked Eileen what advice she would give to other parents and families who are supporting a young person with a mental health difficulty: “If you child is suffering with their mental health you need to get professional help. There is absolutely no shame in reaching out and asking for support. And if your child’s psychiatrist recommends medication, listen to them. They won’t medicate a young person for no reason so trust them; my daughter wouldn’t have got better without specialist help and her anti-depressants really gave her back the life that she felt she had lost before.”

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 in Sussex, go to www.sussexcamhs.nhs.uk