‘We need help’: Parents call for better mental health services

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Curtis Wilson rarely leaves his bedroom. He sleeps during the day and is awake at night.

The only people he talks to are his parents and close family members.

As a child he struggled with his mental health and was eventually diagnosed with Asperger’s, a form of autism.

His parents Len Wilson, 64, a joiner, and Gail Wilson, 60, an office manager, had turned to their local Child and Adult Mental Health Services (CAMHS), but claim they were offered little or no support.

Mr Wilson told Sky News: “I made a call to CAMHS and told them we needed help.

“They came when he was 15 he got a diagnosis when he was 21. They only diagnosed him then because of what happened to Nathan.”

Nathan was Mr and Mrs Wilson’s other son and Curtis’s twin brother.

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Curtis Wilson, left, with his brother Nathan who took his own life
Image: Curtis Wilson, left, with his brother Nathan who took his own life

He too had suffered from mental health issues and in February 2013 took his own life.

Mr Wilson says he had tried his hardest to get help for his two sons.

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He said: “I made a call to CAMHS in May 2012 and I said we need help with the both boys.

“We’re parents not psychologists and we don’t know what to do. We didn’t know what to do with them.”

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Mr Wilson claims the call was never followed up.

Nationally, CAMHS has seen increased demand for its services and 91% of those who work in the system say it’s poorly funded, according to a British Medical Association survey.

In the run up to the general election, all three main parties have promised to increase funding for mental health.

Len Wilson with his sons Nathan, left, and Curtis, right
Image: Len Wilson with his sons Nathan, left, and Curtis, right

The number of children experiencing mental health problems is increasing, with one in eight five to 19-year-olds diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder in 2017.

An estimated 95% of teachers believe that they have taught a child experiencing anxiety, while 60% believe that at least one of the children they have taught are self-harming.

Labour says it will find an additional £845m a year for a Healthy Young Minds plan, while the Liberal Democrats say they would invest £11bn into mental health and treat it as seriously as physical complaints.

But Mrs Wilson says she is not convinced by pre-election promises.

She added: “It’s all rhetoric. They say what they think we want to hear and jump on the bandwagon. What we really need is for services like CAMHS to run effectively and for the people who work within it to actually do their job.

“I feel we were let down and my son’s were let down and whoever wins this elections needs to learn lessons from that.”

A spokesperson for the Conservative Party said: “The Conservatives have promised to increase the health budget by £33.9bn by 2023-24.”

Alder Hey NHS Trust said in a statement: “Any concerns raised by families about the care of their children are taken extremely seriously and are investigated, including by the Ombudsman if appropriate.

“Alder Hey works with a number of partners to offer comprehensive services for young people with mental health conditions. This includes community and inpatient services. We welcome referrals from health professionals as well as from young people or their families.

“We also have a Crisis Care Team and have recently further strengthened our service with the introduction of a support and advice helpline for young people and their families.”

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General election: Parents call for better mental health services

People and politics correspondent @NickMartinSKY Curtis Wilson rarely leaves his bedroom. He sleeps during the day and is awake at night. The only people he talks to are his parents and close family members. As a child he struggled with his mental health and was eventually diagnosed with Asperger’s, a form of autism.

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