"Lack of adolescent mental health support"

About: Peel CAMHS Peel Health Campus / Emergency Department

(as a parent/guardian),

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.

Responses

Response from Margaret Sturdy, Chief Executive Officer, Peel Health Campus, Ramsay Healthcare

picture of Margaret Sturdy

Dear lacking crisis services

Thank you for posting about your experience on Patient Opinion. At a time of great distress last year when your adolescent child was so unwell it is clear that we could have done better. I am very sorry about the haste and lack of consultation with you and your husband at the time of your child’s attendance to the emergency department and the delays in having your child definitively assessed by a mental health practitioner. I would really like the opportunity to review your child’s presentation to the emergency department to ensure we have robust systems and processes in place to protect vulnerable patients and to support their loved ones. If you are able and feel confident to do so, can you give me a call so that I can get a review started. I can be reached on 9531 8580.

Yours sincerely

Margaret

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Response from Kavitha Vijayalakshmi, Child and Adolescent Health Service - WA

Dear lacking crisis services

We are sorry to hear about your experience and your unhappiness with the care provided by CAMHS. We understand the disappointment and sadness you have experienced. We would like to speak with you about your experience and how we can help you going forward. Please call me on 6389 5800 to discuss this further.

If you require urgent mental health support for your child you can call the CAMHS Urgent mental health telephone line on 1800 048 636.

Thank you for telling us about your experience and sharing your concerns. This will help us to understand and further improve the services we provide. I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Yours sincerely

Dr Kavitha Vijayalakshmi, CAMHS Director of Clinical Services

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Update posted by lacking crisis services (a parent/guardian)

I'm happy to have a chat about how you can help others in our situation but at this point, we no longer require your services as we found alternatives. Our teenager's treatment continues still nearly weekly, this is around 7 months after their attempt to suicide. I will update my response once we have spoken.

Response from Margaret Sturdy, Chief Executive Officer, Peel Health Campus, Ramsay Healthcare

picture of Margaret Sturdy

Dear lacking crisis services

It is a relief to hear that your family is receiving care and support. I sincerely hope that your teenager is in a better space and on a positive journey, and I look forward to hearing from you when you are ready.

Yours sincerely

Margaret (9531 8580)

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