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

Our children and youth face mental health issues on an unprecedented scale (Editorial, November 6). Tragically, there appears to be little meaningful action taken in response. My 17 year old son committed suicide last year. We had spent over a year trying to get adequate help for him – it never came. Even after his sanity disintegrates enough to lead to two suicide attempts, he languishes on a waiting list.

The “talk therapy” he eventually received was inadequate, the monitoring of his case chaotic, and my repeated attempts to sound the alarm were recorded as the reactions of an anxious mother. Communication failures, dismissive attitudes and “care” delivered almost entirely over the phone or online meant that no one took overall responsibility and no one knew this struggling boy well enough to discover his despair. I must now spend the rest of my life bearing his loss.

Why is the appropriate and timely treatment of young people not a top priority for this government? Every preventable death is a tragic loss, not only for the family, but also for society.
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I can only confirm from our own experience how bad the system is. Our child waited over two years to be seen by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (Camhs), as our GP could not prescribe antidepressants due to Nice guidelines. During this period, their mental health steadily deteriorated, with an increasing cycle of self-harm. By the time they were finally able to access Camhs, they were having suicidal thoughts in addition to anxiety and depression. Our child is 14 years old. To say that we have all become desperate seems to be an understatement. There are no adequate words to describe the worry experienced on behalf of a vulnerable child.

This experience is lived by thousands of children and their families, so it is not surprising that in some cases we see the ultimate tragedy play out. Our children are the silent victims of government failure on an epic scale. My thoughts are with everyone across the country who is waiting for help. You’re not alone.
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Our eldest daughter started self-harming in early 2020 and did so consistently for the next two years. She has large keloid scars that she will carry for the rest of her life. The scars that my husband, I and his sister bear are emotional, and I don’t know when they will heal.

This crisis started just when her school’s or Camhs’ ability to offer meaningful support was shattered by the lockdown and then crippled for over 18 months. Visit after visit to A&E, multiple hospital admissions, 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 are in a better position now, thanks in large part to a Camhs program launched 10 months ago. I appreciate that, but I remain angry that we’ve been left in the wind for a year and a half.
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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 the appropriate accommodations, and our GP could not continue to prescribe her medication without an appointment you with Camhs. Thirteen months later, we were finally seen for the first time. Next week is our last date, because with a sigh of relief, they’re moving us through the system as my daughter turns 18 and we’ll be someone else’s problem.

Each time she was forced to talk to a new doctor about depression and anxiety (eight appointments, seven doctors). Do they count this as talking therapy? Not a single meaningful tip for dealing with or overcoming ADHD, not to mention depression and anxiety. Not so much as a DIY book recommendation. “What can we do for you?” they ask my mortified child each time. They need her to say she’s not suicidal (today) so they can check the box and escort us.
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In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or by email Where In the United States, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the Lifeline crisis helpline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines are available at

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