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This fear that social services will come and take your children...

(636 Posts)
willsurvivethis Fri 29-Jan-10 15:41:24

...it worries me!

There seem to be so many women out there who are afraid to seek help for depression and other problems out of fear that they will lose their children.

I have just asked MNHQ if they would consider doing something with this. Because surely if so many of us fear to lose our children something is going wrong somewhere! Surely we should all be albe to seek help with confidence?

What are your thoughts on this? I struggle with PTSD and even told my doctor that I tended to keep emotional distance from my ds when he's ill without even considering the possibility of that having repercussions.

willsurvivethis Fri 29-Jan-10 20:17:06

Hmm yes indeed - I'm a lawyer with an A-level in applied maths and statistics and yes statistics can show ANYTHING you like...

heQet Fri 29-Jan-10 20:20:52

I didn't get help for my pnd because me and my husband were convinced social services would take our son away. And I was so bad that a couple of times I thought my son had died at birth and been replaced by a demon. I sat and pictured how he had been cut out of me sad. At my best I just used to shake when changing his nappy. He nearly died at birth (shoulder dystocia) and was left with erbs. It took my 3 years to stop crying and shaking when I tried to talk about it.

My husband used to coach me on what to say to doctors, hv etc and helped me to hide it all.

They would have taken my son away if they'd known how bad I was - I have a history of mh problems and spent some time in a psych unit many years ago. You are never treated the same by the medical profession after you've been through that. you are damned by your medical records until the day you die. If they'd known how I truly felt I don't think they'd have supported us, I think they'd have taken the kids.

Something must be wrong for so many people to have this fear! It doesn't come from nowhere. Something really does need to be done.

uglymugly Fri 29-Jan-10 20:25:02

This fear has been around for a long, long time. My DC1 was born in the 1970s, when all first-time mums stayed in hospital for a minimum of ten days. It wasn't a caring environment - babies were only to be fed every four hours, and when not being fed/changed/bathed were to be in their cots; any baby that cried in between those times was removed to the nursery. It was "well-known" that a mother who decided to leave before being permitted to do so would be reported to social services. Of course, I have no idea whether that would have been the case, but it sure kept all us mums and dads pretty passive.

I think the biggest problem with this is that the family courts are secret and not accountable, so vulnerable people are often forbidden from getting any kind of independent support, told they will go to prison if they complain, etc. Yes, of course there are good, caring social workers, and situations where removal of a child is the best thing to do (mother who won't get rid of an appallingly dangerous partner, for instance). But we have a Government with an extremely controlling attitude towards the general public ('non-compliance with professionals' unleashes a world of hurt on you even when - especially when, said professionals are incompetent or indeed malevolent. It is sadly true that quite a substantial percentage of people who work in the 'caring professions' have taken up this work because they are bullies, egotists or abusers and get off on having power over other people's lives.)

It's because the fear isn't unsubstantiated.

It isn't a myth that Social Workers can ruin your family. It's a fact. Very occassionally they can help you, but there is a prevailing idea that SW crawling all over your life and home is better than NOT doing so and risking missing something. Well I say it isn't so. Their involvement 'just in case' can do a hellova lot of damage.

Their involvement with my family for a respite assessment has meant that the only person who was able to offer occassional respite i.e. my Mother, refuses to talk to me until I show her evidence that something on their file has been removed. On top of that they are refusing to provide respite. So their impact as well as being a stressful experience has been negative.

heQet Fri 29-Jan-10 20:29:01

It has, uglymugly. I remember my mother telling me not to say X, Y, Z to the school because social services would take us away.

She had an absolute terror of this happening.

Years later I found out that this was because she went into a mother and baby unit with me and had to prove she was capable of caring for me, or they'd take me.

They used to inspect the rooms in the unit and the message was clear - don't keep it clean enough and it's a mark against you! she still spends hours every day cleaning her house. Moves all the furniture, cleans every ornament. Every day is a spring clean! It's a compulsion. They really screwed her up. sad

StarExpat Fri 29-Jan-10 20:29:25

Well.... I wasn't scared before reading all this.... but now I am. I had PND, took anti depressants, still take a very very low dose. I see a counsellor weekly because birth was so traumatic. My DS isn't in any danger. I am totally in love with him and he is safe with dh and I. But after reading this, I am definitely going to stop being so open with my counselor about my feelings, though. And maybe cut down visits. I don't want anyone thinking ss needs to intervene. I'm a teacher. I couldn't bear it if anyone at school found out either!

Nymphadora Fri 29-Jan-10 20:31:48

Not sure I want to get involved in this discussion but there are cases out there of SWs making bad decisions but nobody so far has looked at the role the media plays in the scaremongering. Obviously in most cases the wrong decision is never admitted to but compared to the number of children taken into care when it was right to do so surely this is a small number.

I work in the system and I am coming across overzealous new SWs or undereducated and/or jaded older ones but there are good SWs out there and you cant tarnish ALL of them. Its probably the only job outside of Doctors/Nurses/Health where you have to make life or death decisions regularly.

Nymphadora Fri 29-Jan-10 20:35:29

heQet- I have read many court reports on how clean peoples houses were, one referencing the TV being dusty from one visit to the next so unfortunately that one hasnt improved.

In the case I read it definately was the right decision for the child NOT to stay with their parents but I do think comments on dusty TVs undermine the whole picture

willsurvivethis Fri 29-Jan-10 20:36:49

Thanks Nymphadora -

Can I ask this does not become a SS bashing thread - I know we can all say what we like but it's not why I started it...

And please don't stop/change treatment because of what you read on here! Talk to someone you trust in RL before doing anything like that!

twistedhazel Fri 29-Jan-10 20:38:18

I sadly have to agree with you Starlight, yes they can ruin a family as we experienced with the way they 'dealt' with our elderly parent.

I found our by accident (whilst riffling through my antenatal notes) that there was to be a meeting with a social worker whom I had never met, a hv I spoke to briefly - and who had written an extremely embroidered case on the brief meeting-, child protection officer etc re our unborn son on the strength that I had suffered depression some 12 years earlier.
No one asked my husband or myself to attend.

I had not relapsed before my pregnancy nor had suffered PND with my previous two yet on the strength of a highly fabricated report by the HV, we could have had our baby taken into care.

Now I am suffering depression again and am terrified to go for help. It is a Catch 22 situation.

Bloody hell - I work in the mental health field and I have to say my main problem is that parents are given chance after chance after chance to fuck up their kids lives.

If you could see some of the kids that we have to deal with who have been left in the care of their parents and by the time they reach their teen years are so bloody damaged that they will never lead normal lives you would be horrified.

Starexpat - do you really think being less open with a counsellor who is not allowed to discuss your case with others except in extreme curcumstances is wise - she is probably helping you.

BigMomma3 Fri 29-Jan-10 20:45:00

OMG this is something I have been terrified about lately. I have 3 DCs and am pregnant with my 4th.

Last year, after almost 30 years of suffering (from around age of 8), I finally plucked up the courage to see my GP about my OCD (obsessive, distressing thoughts are my biggest problem). I did not know what it was until then, just thought I was a loon but my life has been a living misery because of it sad. I was referred to my Community Health Team and after an assessment from them, they said CBT would be the best course of action. I did pay privately for a while but could not carry on paying 60 quid a pop. So still on waiting NHS list.

I am now unexpectedly (but happily) pregnant and without my knowledge, I was transferred from my local midwifery team to a team that 'offers extra support' when I asked my GP why, he said it was because of my 'mental health issues'. I have been panicking ever since then and wish I had never approached my GP as I am worried that because of my pregnancy, I may be flagged up to SS. Not that I have ever had any dealing with them before of course but I am unsure at how my OCD will be looked upon. No one has ever expressed any concerns about my children so I guess it's just my paranoia!!

BigMomma3 Fri 29-Jan-10 20:50:18

Oh and just to clarify MadameCastefiore - my DCs are not fucked up because of my 'problem'. I have kept it very well hidden (suffered in silence) and they are totally unaware that their mother is 'ill'.

PARANOIA is part of depression and lots of other mental health issues - I would say that was the main problem here and it bloody well seems to be catching!

Exactly nymph. Doesn't the fact that they do make life or death decisions make this perception all the worse if it reflects even some me the truth. the fact that there are good sws doesn't make up for or excuse this feeling that women have. There shouldn't be a pot luck situation where if women ask for help they may or may not recieve good care. Pnd and ptsd are serious conditions but are not reason to question whether a mother has the right to raise her child. I think the point of this thread is to say yes there are good sws there, and involving them and gps and any other authority that acts as a support net should only be a good thing. Women should get the help they deserve. But when women are in fear, whether justified fear or not, there is a problem. And without intending to be rude, i agree that the media sensationalise and misery sells at the end of the day, not happy outcomes when all is well- i still think that there is no smoke without fire.
A bad reputation is earned not given.
Its not so much individual sws that are being attacked as the ss system as a whole.

ellymouse Fri 29-Jan-10 20:52:08

just want to say to those of you with depression, up to 12% of the uk population suffer from it during any one year. they can't possibly make it a policy to take children away from people suffering from depression so dont put off/stop getting help. i dont regret getting help for my psychosis, otherwise i wouldn't be here to be pregnant. what worries me though is the diagnosis psychosis, its a serious diagnosis. people hear it and think psycho (knife in the shower etc) i do trust my case worker but i won't have her for more then another year, what will i do then? if ss do get involved they'll hear psychosis and think i'm dangerous or something. does anyone else have the same diagnosis? i'm so scared. havn't given birth yet but i want to be a mum.

willsurvivethis Fri 29-Jan-10 20:55:54

Ellymouse you are so right - 1 in 4 people has a mental health issue at some point in their life.

Feel verysad at the effect of your diagnosis - stupid word. It belies the fact that psychosis can be ver well treated and is indeed not always or not at all dangerous to others

No elly SS will not think psychosis is that bad - it can be very mild and fleeting or very very severe but it will not scare them it is something that those in the mental health profession see everyday.

And Bigmomma - your kids will definately know - and getting help as a family is the best thing you can do - not hiding it from them and from others.

StarExpat Fri 29-Jan-10 20:56:38

I know, madame. And I have a background (degree) in psychology as well. However, I am not from this country originally and not sure of how easily ss is called in for such matters. I've been very open with my counselor about some thoughts I've had but don't have anymore (i.e. I just feel like I'm not a good enough mother and maybe DS would be better off with someone else ). And like the poster who said that secret conversation was had between her HV and SS, what if she goes and brings info like that to them, considering it "severe"?
Yes, I am paranoid now.

Mmmcoffee Fri 29-Jan-10 20:57:31

My DD slipped in the bath when she was about 3yo; she sat down hard on a plastic penguin and got a cut right 'up there'.

I was actually SCARED to take her to A&E to get it looked at because of what they might do. And then I was petrified that it would get infected or something and we'd be under MORE suspicion because we hadn't sought out care in the first place.

It is so wrong when innocent people are afraid of The Authorities.

UnderneathTheStream Fri 29-Jan-10 20:57:53

Great.
I’m terrified now – history of eating disorders with a brief side step into alcohol abuse for a change, then just plain uncomplicated depression – the last episode being 2 years ago with my third suicide attempt.

So what you are saying is that the one thing that I am living for: having a family; will be taken away from me just because of my depression that was largely related to me not having a family?!!

I am literally terrified by this…

twistedhazel Fri 29-Jan-10 21:00:36

I cannot understand why there is still such a stigma attached to mental illness. Say for example you had angina or some other illness- there would be no stigma attached to your treatment or ability to be a good parent.

willsurvivethis Fri 29-Jan-10 21:01:25

StarExpat that must be the most common statement made by women in counselling 'I'm not a good enough mother' - usually by good mothers with low self esteem and depression. Counsellors must hear it every day.

If we're just going to scare each other now I'm going to ask mn to shut this thread down and remove it, maybe i should not have started it...I wanted to make it discussable not scare people sad

woodyandbuzz Fri 29-Jan-10 21:01:31

I met a social worker (in the context of friendships, not through her profession). We arranged to meet up somewhere and she told me she couldn't go to that particular place as she had been involved in the removal of a baby nearby and the family were in pieces and furious (and would attack her if they saw her). Another friend asked her if she was 100% sure that it was the right thing to do (to take away the baby). She said she thought it was the right thing to do, but was not 100% AND the SW was a twenty something with no children of her own. It utterly terrified me. I cut contact with her immediately and I would never ever go to any authorites with any MH problem ever ever ever.

The media do sensationalise, but the bare bones of this stuff is true. Although newspapers can be littered with inaccuracies, they don't usually go for total and utter fiction!

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