When mum Lindsay found a suicide note from her eight-year-old son, she didn’t know which way to turn.
Faced with every parent’s worst nightmare, Lindsay (name changed) was desperate to help her son and yet felt utterly helpless. Child mental health services are pushed to the limit and families face long waits to get the help they need. Lindsay’s son is still waiting for his CAMHS sessions a year later.
Luckily, the family were put in touch with the Sunflower Trust, a charity that delivers a health and wellbeing programme to support children with all sorts of challenges – from anxiety to anger, those on the autistic spectrum, those who have learning difficulties or behavioural challenges and lot more in-between.
Lindsay said: “A year is a long time in a child’s life. I don’t know where we would be if it hadn’t been for Sunflower. Sunflower’s initial assessment was like having an MOT for your child and it revealed that my son had postural imbalances and was completely out of alignment. This has now been corrected so he is a lot more comfortable in his own skin, he doesn’t fidget as much resulting in a much calmer boy at school. He has been given help to assist his right left brain integration to boost his focus and concentration.”
She has told her story in an aim to help other parents find the support they need following a recent BBC Panorama documentary labelled CAMHS (Children & Adolescent Mental Health Service) ‘unfit for purpose’ and unable to meet demand.
The programme highlighted how one in 10 children are struggling to cope and yet only a quarter of children with mental health problems are getting the treatment they need.
Sunflower practitioner, Sheree McGregor said: “It is a real growing concern. It is often many months or even a year on the waiting list to be assessed and then the children have to go through quite a long assessment procedure in order to get the help. So, you can just imagine the impact on the families and the children and how do they cope in the meantime.
“The key is support. A parent is going to feel really helpless when they have a child who is displaying behaviour that they do not know how to deal with. This is very distressing for all concerned and a parent needs to feel as they are doing the right thing to help their child and within a timeframe that is beneficial.”
Sunflower offers immediate support without a waiting list or the need for a diagnosis. It assesses a child’s whole wellbeing before designing a programme of therapy that works for their individual needs.
The programme goes right back to basics to look at every aspect of a child’s body before they work on a child’s mental health.
Mum Katie (name changed) tells how the programme supported her seven-year-old daughter: “She was struggling at school, crying herself to sleep at night and getting ill all the time. She had poor attention, an inability to focus, was disorganised and forgetful let alone getting bored easily, being fidgety and restless. She didn’t like school and was having trouble with handwriting and keeping up with schoolwork and homework, despite being intelligent.
“We were on the waiting list for CAMHS but ended up paying privately for a psychiatric assessment. Our daughter was diagnosed with ADHD and sensory processing disorder.
“A friend recommended us to Sunflower and we felt they could provide us with a starting point in helping to address our daughter’s physical, emotional and learning issues.
“Her sleeping has now improved. She no longer gets leg pain and her handwriting has improved greatly which means her school work is going well and she is finding it more enjoyable.
“Sheree has worked on her gross motor skills so she now walks better, doesn’t fall over and she can even catch balls! She is now happy to sit down and write. The icing on the cake for me was when our daughter stood up in school and received a gold book and certificate in assembly for her huge improvement in all subjects for handwriting, focus and concentration. I am just so proud of her.”
If you feel your child needs extra support, contact Sunflower : 01483 531498 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org The charity provides bursaries for families that need financial help.