Below is the true story of what is happening to our children. A wonderful lady I know wanted to share her experience with you, in the HOPE that you will help support her in trying to make things better for our children.
If you have kids you will need to read this. If you have suffered mental health you need to read this and if you have a child that's struggling with their mental or emotional health you need to read this!
All the pictures were drawn by 'B' or created by her on the computer...
(c) Hope Charity Project
"My fight to get help for my child's emotional health has been a battle of love and fury over the last few years and it has opened my eyes to an area of our society that has left me in shock.
Please bear with me, as I am still in recovery myself from this traumatic experience of a mother’s deepest despair, I could never have imagined what we have been through nor seen it coming.
I am committed to helping my family and now as many other families as we can. I want to support them as I feel we have a care system failing thousands of children and their families who are in their homes, alone, struggling every day to keep their children safe from themselves and even just to keep them alive.
Mental Health hasn’t ever really been focused on children…..well until recently Mental health hasn’t been particularly noticed at all. Suddenly the media is reporting and sharing concerns and highlighting problems in this sector. The royals have made a big difference there.
It is so sad but a relief that finally facts regarding children and teenagers seriously struggling in their daily lives is beginning to surface. It really is only the tip of the iceberg though. This silent crisis that has up until now, been ignored, is a shameful situation in this day and age, especially for a leading country of the world, like Britain.
2016 I experienced for myself the shambles that is Mental Health Care for children aka CAMHS (Children Adolescents Mental Health System).
After a few months of me screaming out to the system for help, they finally came to our aid but it took for my 12yr old to attempt suicide by hanging herself to get the attention of CAMHS and for them to offer a form of help to us.
I am mother of two. My Daughter in question here (I will refer to her as 'B') has always been a very bright, expressive, confident, caring, extremely sensitive child in many ways. She loved school and learning but from the middle of year 2 (after her best friend left that she’d been with since nursery) onwards she struggled to find a new group of friends.
What she found instead was exclusion from peers, bullying and daily misery that led to her hating school.
Getting her to school each morning was a distressing battle. Symptoms of frustration and sadness have been a slow grow in her ever since the bullying began.
I’ve always known that something was different about her but GPS and CAMHS back then just kept turning us away, telling me, she was just super smart and very advanced in her emotional age, which was true….. but that’s not her fault and shouldn't make her sad, I could see and feel her frustrations with herself and that it was causing a lot of the issues in her life.
She wasn’t just being awkward, a drama queen, difficult, a cry baby………something wasn’t right. It was like she was trapped in her own frustration. She began to hate herself for the way she was.
I found it all very hard to cope with, often bursting into tears after dropping her off to school in the mornings from the level of distress it took at the start of the day to get her there, I became very protective of her and defensive of people’s opinions about her. On and off friends kept pushing her away. She found it hard to back down from disputes, when she was sure her logical point was valid (notoriously it was!). Very passionate regarding what is fair and right. She's a perfectionist, fussy with clothes and the textures of them.
These traits she’s had all her life.
Being my first born I had nothing to compare her to and just thought she was very advanced, bright and just sensitive, she didn’t deserve the difficulties it caused her in primary school.
No answers were offered by specialists as to why she could not contain her frustrations and thoughts ,when I went back several times with my concerns. Frustratingly 'B' wouldn’t show this overwhelming pressure she felt while at school, somehow she stored it all up inside till pick up time, where it all spilled out like a breaking dam of frustration, pain, anger. The school environment became increasingly, a place of misery for 'B'. To the outside world she came across as a very articulate, together, a normal confident child simply over sensative. No one would ever know what was brewing inside.
In the Summer of 2016 we moved to a completely new area for a fresh start. 'B' started secondary school that September which was the crash point.
With the fear of what primary school had been like before & the longing to be liked & cared for by peers, she felt she had to wear a mask and be the same as others, to 'fit in'. She tried so hard, nervously, too hard. However, she couldn't get out of her head the way she had been rejected at primary school and was starting to believe she was irritating and that she deserved to be bullied, it was all her fault. She came to the conclusion that she was "stupid", "Idiotic", "disgusting", "irritating" & worthless, she wrote a letter to me telling me just that. She believed this was it, she would never fit in... anywhere.
Within that first term her depression grew and started to accelerate causing her to start self-harming, she spoke, through heartbreaking tears, of "not wanting to be here anymore".
(c) Hope charity Project
I found disturbing dark art work and messages in her notebooks. She began to express through tears of sadness that she felt like an alien and would never ever fit in. B was overwhelmingly sad and lonely, having no friends and therefore concluding it was all her fault and no one else’s, she was the problem.
My gut knew this was a very serious turning point. I needed professional help for her. I was desperately reaching out to my GP for help and support, I was emailing and calling any organisation I could find who might help but the repeated advice I kept getting was "take her to A&E' ?! I persisted to our GP who referred her 3 separate times to CAMHS, they rejected us every time telling us, they couldn’t help at this time and simply advised us to approach the school nurse!
Even though she ticked every symptom on the CAMHS website that said, she qualified in being at serious risk and to get in touch with them our plea for help was still rejected.
We were in CRISIS. I was a parent in despair as to how to help my child. By now her tears had stopped and turned to a cold stare……..my little girl had gone, given up, to her no one could ever understand or was wanting to help her. She often said "i'm invisible, no one sees me".
The overwhelming pressure she felt inside for it all to stop, the need to punish herself for being such a disgusting human being was so powerful. The loud, provoking voices in her head constantly putting her down, telling her she needs to die, everyone will be better off, she doesn't belong here..... became all too much for her to take anymore..........the suicide attempts began.
Suddenly, we got CAMHS attention, social workers and a crisis help team came to our doorstep........but that was due to a blue light A&E admittance after I walked in her bedroom seconds after she’d stepped off a chair and had hung herself from her wardrobe!
Words could not describe that moment. A CAMHS counsellor visited the hospital to asses her/us and we were sent home. Even then it was still lots of words and no real action.
'B' had lost all faith. We were on suicide watch 24-7 which was relentless. 'B' was attempting suicide daily. My exhaustion began to take over after weeks of not sleeping and being assaulted daily by my child, determined to hurt herself and die, she would attack me and anyone in her way or who tried to stop her. She would accuse me of not loving her, she'd say "if you really loved me you'd let me go, you'd let me do it! She was like a possessed child, 'B' was lost, she was suffering from Major Depression.
7 weeks later 'B' was admitted to hospital when we were informed a bed was due to become free and the seriousness of her condition won her the bed! (many other children as serious as her were also waiting for that bed, teams would discuss who should get it! (It’s a lottery) We thought we’d got lucky……
We had convinced her she would get the help we’d been waiting for, reluctantly 'B' agreed to go in. That’s when our living hell really began.
(c) Hope Charity Project
Care, support, help…. not really. It was like she was in prison and being punished for being poorly!
She was on mixed sex wards ranging from ages 13-18. The hope that it would only be a 3 to 4 weeks admission turned into 9 months, with 3 hospital transfers.
'B' shouldn’t have even been in there, being only 12ys old, but other than being taken to a cell at a police station (which was offered!) this was the only option.
The Police are dealing with countless cases of families needing help with emotionally distressed children. Cells are not the answer for poorly children nor the duty of the police to have to deal with, even though they are doing a great job with response, support and care. This is another huge problem which is spiralling out of control within the health sector.
A week after 'B' arrived at the Adolescent Mental Health Hospital she was sectioned as she was becoming so distraught in the environment.
The lack of understanding support there caused her to deteriorate further and traumatized her beyond belief, with the awful experiences, poor treatment, poor safeguarding and in general very bad care was received by my daughter.
She was judged, tormented, assaulted, treated like a badly-behaved child who needed disciplining. She gained more problems than she originally went in with.
'B' also became totally mistrustful of us for a while and no wonder, we’d told her if she went to hospital they would help her. In her eyes we had lied, tricked her.
My heart broke, we felt lied to as well. It was like a a sick joke.
Below is a picture of my baby a few months before her breakdown...
She was effervescent, fun loving, intelligent with the whole world at her feet. She seemed very excited to be starting secondary school and she did have some hope she would make new friends... but fear took over her and no one could have ever predicted what was about to come, all because she felt she had been rejected and misunderstood...
Below is a picture of my baby 6 months later, a few weeks after she had been admitted to a mental health hospital
She was utterly broken, did not trust anyone and kept telling me she just needed to die - terrible words for any mother to hear her baby utter and heart wrenching to see her so distraught. I was powerless. As a mother it was the most unnatural and sickening feeling, to be so removed from your child when they need you so much. Seeing and hearing their pain on a screen and on the phone but they are miles and miles away from you, It's torture.
As parents, we had all our rights taken away. I was on my knees in fear every day, worried I’d get a phone call to tell me they didn’t get to her in time. Hearing my baby in tears begging me to get her out and away from these people. I was so frustrated, angry and felt traumatised myself from the whole experience. Our whole family were living a nightmare and we had no clue how we had ended up there.
One of the worst moments (there were many) was when she was transported to a different hospital by ambulance to a PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit). I was told I was not allowed to travel with her, which I obviously questioned but they convinced me it was best for her.
'B' travelled alone for over an hour with 3 compassionless strangers who looked more like scary menacing bouncers (one in a casual leather jacket). They put her in a black cage for the journey (picture meat wagon) in only a vest and PJ bottoms (it was January). We were there for her when she arrived, her father lifted her out of the ‘cage’, she was dribbling in fear. I was then sick with shock, fury and utter despair that she had been put through such a terrible ordeal, alone, scared and that she had been treated that way. This was a poorly, vulnerable 12yr old child, not a criminal.
The only positive thing that came of her being in a hospital was the diagnosis that she has Asperger’s, which explains SO much regarding the traits she has had her whole life. If you google/read 'Asperger symptoms' for girls…they are very different to the boys traits.
For 'B' to learn she is an 'Aspie' (as they are proudly known) it's yet to be understood and accepted but I hope in time it will allow her to forgive herself a little, for the complex traits she has dealt with all her life. Things that to so many to us, 'are regular moments', but for 'B' are an over sensory nightmare for her brain to cope with and she needs to know that it is not all her fault. Unfortunately, for now, she still thinks it is but in time with support, understanding, learning and by finally accepting herself, I know she can and will use this 'gift' to her advantage and with her skills and massive heart, the sky is the limit.
It’s not easy for me to reflect that if this had been picked up earlier in 'B’s' life, she may have avoided depression and this breakdown, which nearly cost her her life. Not to mention all the traumatic experiences she had while in ‘Hospital Care!’ that no child should go though.
Earlier intervention, better support & understanding would prevent a lot of these young people ever needing to cry out for help or ever feeling alone, it should never get to the stage of hospitalisation. This dated system is causing its own problem at the expexpense of our children.
Current Adolescent Mental Health Hospitals are no place for any child, especially those on the autistic spectrum. To them it’s hell on earth and I witnessed why.
I met many families while I was at the 3 different hospitals and most of them had gone or were going through the same frustrations and despair that I did. No productive support for anyone involved. Just contained children in these now, mainly privatised hospitals, funded by the NHS. Well over £600 per day, per child. Full to capacity hospitals that only provide the minimum of care.
In the 8 months 'B' was in hospital, she only received 3 therapy sessions and not once was she offered or given any emotional support regarding any of the traumatic experiences she had suffered while she was there, which included being head butted by 14 yr old, kicked in the stomach by 16yr old boy, numerous threats by patients & staff, offered drugs and if that's not bad enough.... Sexually assaulted by a 14 year old patient who was on her ward and wasn’t being watched when he should have been on 1-1 care. She was also accused by a member of staff, that she should of screamed! Like it was her fault! She originally went into hospital with major depression and came out with PTSD and an eating disorder. Work that out?! Oh did I mention she was offered no emotional support or therapy for any of it....
It's important to add though, that some of the staff were amazing, caring, competent professionals doing a great job with what they have to deal with. Many of them have their hands tied and their frustrations zipped shut. I thank them dearly for the moments of care and strength they gave 'B' but with so many shifts and ward changes, a kind familiar face was not there often enough.
Unfortunately, the few quality staff, mixed with many minimum wage unqualified support staff from agencies to make up numbers on shifts, results in our children being affected and utterly failed. Poor care standards, lack of essential understanding and inconsistency…... Sadly, it’s all about the Profit ££££, targets, …it's just a business and those that are passionate and love their jobs can do nothing to change this failing system, some even leave.
They are trying to condense this ever growing problem, causing CAMHS to be so under resourced and overwhelmed, with families needing help but yet they are having to turn them away daily. Waiting lists for first assessments are over 9 months long, if you’re lucky enough to get your referral accepted to start with!
It’s no surprise that self-harm and suicide attempts are soaring. The Professionals are embarrassed and apologising to families when they can clearly see their intervention and help has got there too late, It really isn’t the medical professionals fault, it’s the dated system, a shortage of qualified passionate staff and the millions being ploughed into privatization.
Lack of funds B*** S*** it's just too much going in the wrong areas and hands.
Give me access to a few million to bring together and to collaborate with those that get it and actually do care and I know we would make a difference! Being heard, shown care, given therapy, having somewhere to physically turn to is what is needed. Strip it back to basics…..a bit of Love…….empathy, care, time, nurture, trust. They are children. They are our children...
That's why I have started my own charity to support my family and other children because of the effect this experience has had and is still very much having on us as a family. We shouldn’t have to be alone, ‘still’ with nowhere to turn.
We have created the ‘HOPE Charity Project’ to help and support as many young people and their families as we can in the process. Bringing families going through the same awful experiences together as a community. To support each other when there is nowhere else to turn, while waiting for the changes that may come all too late for too many.
My vision for change is a big one but I know I’m not alone anymore with the families our HOPE Charity Project has brought together and it is growing everyday. The HCP gives us all strength and in turn we share it with each other when it’s needed. One step at a time from thousands that are united will achieve lots of steps very quickly of that I am sure.
I’m so lucky that I have managed to turn 'B' around and get her strong enough to bring her back home by visiting her daily. So many families are unable to do that, as you are sent wherever a bed is available and sadly that could be the other end of the country, hundreds of miles away. I feel for thousands that are still at home fighting so hard to be heard and helped but I also feel for those fighting to get their children home from the many simply 'containing' profit driven Institutes.
'B', now 13, still lives with depression and struggles to see how she will ever fit in. Her self worth is very low and she is still recovering from her experiences in the hospitals, but without doubt, my beautiful 'B' is slowly coming back....I see her sparkle and gorgeous smiles daily and her eyes look at me with hope in them again. She is a true star.
She hasn’t been to school for nearly two years now and no realistic prevision has been made to get her any support with her education (which is another massive subject) but that’s the least of my concerns.
Keeping her going, keeping her out of those hospitals, being in control of her care again is all I can focus on for now, as well as giving her time to reflect and accept herself. I want her to know and believe how much she is loved and how important she is and what beauty, magic and caring qualities she brings to the world.
We must help these young people to realise they are not alone and that they can get through this time in their lives. We must do this together by surrounding them with people who care and understand them beyond their families.
I hope that by talking about this crisis, it forces change that is quick enough to get a hold of this currently snowballing mess.
Research shows, young people in the UK suffer from some of the ‘lowest levels of wellbeing in the world’…second only to Japan.
60+ children a day are calling childline with suicidal thoughts
3 children in every class have a diagnosable MH condition
7 in 10 young people with MH problems haven’t had sufficient help at an early age.
In 5 years the number of under-sixteens hospitalised after self-harming has doubled.
50% of those who die by suicide have a history of self harm
75% of those with a MH condition start developing it before the age of 18.
All donations go to facilitate our care service and the running of our 'HCP community & sanctuary Centre , for day retreats, Animal ,1-1 & group therapy, for all these families in need of somewhere to go.
If you would like to help, please get in touch :)
Thank you for reading, I hope it may help someone in someway.
If you have been touched by our story and want to help The Hope Charity Project, please click on any of the pictures, they will take you to our website, where you will find a donate button. All donations welcome as every penny helps!