By Nicola Evans, Clinical Negligence Solicitor at Neil Hudgell Solicitors.
Pressure is quite rightly growing for a major shake-up in mental health services for young people in East Yorkshire, with a number of recent stories highlighting the anguish caused to many families by a massive hole in services locally.
Credit must go to the Hull Daily Mail, which has not just simply reported on the unacceptable situation over the past week, but has sought to firmly address the issue, looking to make a difference by launching its ‘Kids in Crisis’ campaign.
The newspaper last week revealed the plight of Maisie Shaw, a 13-year-old girl who has been sent to Sheffield for treatment, leaving her mother Sally facing a 120-mile round trip to see her and support her.
The case of 15-year-old Jordan Hatfield was also highlighted, as she was sent to Manchester because there was nowhere for her to go in Hull.
In total, six families in East Yorkshire are currently facing the ordeal of travelling to specialist units across the country, whilst some young people are being kept in adult mental health units as there are no suitable places for them in the city.
Families have told the paper they feel left without support when their children suffer mental health breakdowns at weekends and nights because no round-the-clock service is provided.
Quite rightly, the paper is calling for a change, firstly via NHS England, which it is asking to reinstate a mental health unit in the city with inpatient beds for young people, the last having closed in 2013.
It is also calling on the Hull and East Riding Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to provide better out-of-hours care for children in crisis.
MP Alan Johnson, himself a former health secretary, has been fighting for the reinstatement of inpatient beds for children since the closure of the city’s only overnight mental health unit for children and adolescents – West End Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service – in Hessle Road.
Since its closure in 2013, it is understood that children have been sent to cities across the North, with one Hull girl receiving care in Newcastle. Mr Johnson has raised the issue in parliament, calling the situation ‘scandalous’.
Now, health bosses, nationally and locally, must listen.
At Neil Hudgell Solicitors, our work often brings us into contact with families who have needed the support of mental health services and facilities to care for a loved one.
For the individual needing support and treatment themselves, a network of local support, including health professionals, family, and friends, is crucial in helping them overcome any difficulties they face.
For family members, it is a truly challenging situation, both emotionally and physically draining. Being forced to be so far apart from their loved ones at such a time, simply through a lack of investment and facilities, cannot be right.
Importantly, the need for better support locally is not going to lessen over time.
According to recent reports, 29 children in the region were recently referred to children’s mental health services in just two weeks. Staff normally deal with five or six referrals a month.
These are difficult times for many young people and their families. They deserve the better support this campaign is calling for.
Where to turn for help
Young people and their families in need of support can use Contact Point, a telephone hotline run by CAMHS between 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
People in Hull should call 01482 303688, while those in the East Riding should call (01482) 303810 if they need help.
The Warren, in Queens Dock Avenue, Hull city centre, also offers a free counselling and advice service for young people aged between 14 and 25.
It is a drop-in service, with three counselling rooms where people can speak in confidence to counsellors. You can call The Warren on (01482) 218115.
For help and support about mental health matters, you can also contact charity Hull and East Yorkshire Mind in Beverley Road. They run an information line on (01482) 240133.
Young Minds, a national charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing of young people, also offers a helpline for parents needing support on 0808 8025544.