"Lack of adolescent mental health support"
Posted by lacking crisis services (as ),
Last year our teenage child tried to suicide at school and was transported to Peel Health Campus via ambulance. I arrived approximately 25 minutes after they arrived at the ED and their Dad arrived about 25 minutes after I did. On my husband’s (their dad) arrival my child was discharged no more than 15 minutes later. At no point were either of us as parents present when they saw a doctor and were only approached by a nurse who told us that as my child was with PYMS (Peel Youth Medical Service) that they had it sorted.
No counsellor, psychologist or mental health professional even put eyes on our child while at Peel Health Campus. The nurse said that they had sent a referral to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) - located next door to the ED - and that they would call us. Please note that my husband and I were in shock. We said okay and took our child home. The next 2 days were blurry but my husband and I were contacted by our child’s school offering support and my husband's employer called numerous times and had made an appointment with the Employee Assistance Program Mental Health Professionals for us as parents to go see someone. On the third day I called CAMHS to see if they had any appointments available and they informed me that they hadn't received our child’s referral but they would chase it up and call me back. For the next two weeks my husband and I saw mental health professionals at least 4 times. Our child still hadn't seen a professional! Coming into the third week I contacted CAMHS again, and they had forgotten, and the referral had been lost. Apologies were made and it was 3 weeks to the day when our child finally saw a professional. Their initial appointment they were seen by a psychiatric nurse and the following 4-5 appointments they saw a social worker. My child was discharged less than 6 weeks after their suicide attempt, they were not able to attend school for more than a few hours at a time, and were with the understanding that if any time in the following 3 months they felt they needed to engage those services that they could do so without another referral. Fast forward to about a month and with the pressure of school our child asked us to engage with CAMHS again as they were having ideations and feeling very depressed and anxious. When I called to make an appointment the staff who I spoke to told me that our child had been discharged and they would need another referral to which I explained what we had been told and after a lot of negotiations they made our child an appointment for the following week with a different staff member that our child had never met. This person's role was senior social worker! After a 30 minute chat it was decided that our child did not need this service. This was after they were told to reach out and tell us when they needed help! Our child did and was told that they didn't need help.
We have since sought help from private services and through our child’s volunteer work with our Shire, they have been offered assistance through them and utilising all support services within their school. My husband all up had to have 6 weeks off work and I have never returned to my previous position and now only work from home to be available.
My husband and I understand that there is no cure for suicide. We don't want our child to be one of the statistics.
How do I feel? I feel very let down by the services in our community that are supposed to provide care when crisis hits. The services that are there to provide ongoing preventative care are so under the pump because the crisis services are not running efficiently. I'm sad for every person that is now a statistic of what I feel is the failure of care in Peel.