Should doctors working with parents with mental health issues be compelled to pass that information to social services?

(129 Posts)
JaneGMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 03-Apr-13 13:16:27

Hi,

BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour are discussing depression tomorrow morning, in the light of an Ofsted report which says that children whose parents have mental health difficulties are poorly supported and protected, and they've asked us to ask you what you think.

In the light of the reports, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission are proposing there should be a legal requirement for doctors and specialists working with parents with mental health issues to pass that information on to Social Services and other agencies. What do you think?

Would this improve joint working between children's social care and adult mental health services, and lessen risks for children?

Or would such a requirement mean that fewer mothers would be willing to talk about their mental health issues, including post-natal depression, with their doctors?

Many thanks for sharing your thoughts,
MNHQ

whokilleddannylatimer Wed 03-Apr-13 13:19:21

I think it would result in far few parents coming forward, people are often very scared of social services, they would suffer without help.

Obviously if the doctor felt a child was in danger that's different but as standard no.

Sirzy Wed 03-Apr-13 13:19:27

I think if something is said which puts a child at potential risk then it should be reported but I think informing SS of every case would a) make unrealistic workloads for SS and b) scare people out of getting help and make life more dangerous for some vulnerable families.

Nilgiri Wed 03-Apr-13 13:22:39

Because SS are just twiddling their thumbs waiting for more box-ticking to arrive on their desks? And would happily re-prioritise resources from families with severe current problems to those who may - but may not -have future problems of some kind?

And because mental health has never, ever been used to stigmatise anyone?

Dreadful idea.

WildlingPrincess Wed 03-Apr-13 13:23:53

Agree with above. I think it would put extra fear and stress on the ill parent too, which won't help! It could make the child feel insecure too.

GetOeuf Wed 03-Apr-13 13:25:49

If this happens it would mean that parents with MH problems would probably feel so anxious about SS involvement that they would avoid seeking medical help at all.

An awful idea.

moonbells Wed 03-Apr-13 13:33:52

Ouch. What about people who have had depression at some point and have been off antidepressants for years? Are they to be reported? I once read that 25% of people will experience it sometime in their lives. It's hard enough to persuade people to go see the GP now if they have it, since major symptoms include lack of trust, feeling that nobody can help, that it's hopeless. If they have fear of losing their children added to that, it can only make matters much worse.

Agree on the PND aspect too. It needs care and help, not perceived threats against the babies.

Carrots, not sticks.

whokilleddannylatimer Wed 03-Apr-13 13:35:27

"And because mental health has never, ever been used to stigmatise anyone?"

This.

My uncle was once offered a job dependent on a medical and GP report. He was in the building when the GP report came and has previously suffered depression as a result of a traumatic event. The business owner asked him to leave and withdrew the offer, he was escorted out by security.

I suffered PND, if I had thought social services would get involved there's no chance on earth I would have spoken to GP.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Wed 03-Apr-13 13:40:41

No chance. As others say, it would result in some people not seeking help.

It should be that if there is a specific concern or safeguarding issue then ss can be brought in. But not disclosed as routine.

Exhaustipated Wed 03-Apr-13 13:44:55

Terrible terrible idea.

As someone who has experienced PND, I know how reluctant the illness itself can make you to seek help. This would make it a lot worse. If people don't seek help then that is the worst possible situation for their children, surely?

In cases where there are concerns about individual children then could schools not take action on this basis, rather than doctors doing automatic referals?

FairyJen Wed 03-Apr-13 13:46:14

< ahem > what if like me you have depression and kids but your also a sw? I'm already known to myself...

LackaDAISYcal Wed 03-Apr-13 14:02:50

What nilgiri said!

It took me loing enough to seek help for my depression because of a fear of involvement of statutory authorities. I think lknowing that by asking for help I would definately be alerting social services I would just not have sought help at all. And god knows where we would be as a family now sad

By all means provide more help for parents with mental health issues, but social services should only be involved when there is a recognised child protection issue.

And to be honest, getting people talking about depression and trying to break down the barriers and associated stigma with campaigns such as Mind's Time to Change will be far more beneficial to sufferers and their families than a fear of social services involvement.

Very very bad idea. Though I can see that they are trying to avert tragedies such as a suicidal parent taking their children with them. there should be more support for those parents, and inter-agency co-operation only when it is needed.

gazzalw Wed 03-Apr-13 14:03:56

It seems like the thin end of the wedge to me.... Start off with this - then what? Report parents who've tested positive for STDs because they obviously lead wreckless lives? Hmmmm.

Absolutely not unless the children are seen to be at risk through neglect etc...

I am pretty sure that even if they are depressed, most parents will strive to ensure that their children still get care and attention etc....

And what parameters are they going to use to judge depression? There's a huge difference between the type of depression one might regularly suffer with bipolar disorder or with a short bout of depression caused by bereavement/the end of a relationship etc....

Whatever happened to patient confidentiality?

De88 Wed 03-Apr-13 14:04:51

If doctors and specialists explain why they would like to pass the information on (i.e. if they feel they more support might be beneficial to them and their families, or if there is sufficient reason to believe that there is a real potential for someone to be harmed - rare, thankfully) and the patient understands that and gives their consent, I don't see a problem with it.

No way should there be a legal requirement to do so though. Let professionals be human and use their judgement. Shouldn't be encouraging a fear of people who can help! There are enough flaws in the system as it is, we don't need another reactionary blanket law.

I heard this today on WH and think it is a terrible idea.

I had ante natal triggered OCD, depression and anxiety. I received superb care from all health professionals involved - including my GP, the CMHT, psychiatrist, mental health specialist midwife and obstetric consultant.

Initially I was terrified to admit how I was feeling because one of my fears was that my baby would be taken away at birth. I honestly think if I knew I would be referred to social services automatically I wouldn't have sought help. All the HCPs involved in my care reassured me at every stage.

Surely if a pregnant woman is known to HCPs she acknowledges her illness and wants to improve her situation? I can't see how an automatic referral simply because of a MH diagnosis will help anyone, mother or child.

insertname Wed 03-Apr-13 14:58:10

No way! Ensure people are trained so that warning signs of possible neglect and harm of children are spotted, as should and does happen now. It will just stop people seeking help, thereby increasing the risk of someone getting worse. Look at the horror on here from totally normal families when a and e trips were going to be joined up - people were really worried about that.

Jollyb Wed 03-Apr-13 14:58:26

No - only if they feel the child is at risk because of the MH problem

notcitrus Wed 03-Apr-13 15:05:22

Ridiculous idea - suggest passing on info to HVs or Homestart, or any other local resources like children's centres, but if you mention SS people think of child protection and taking away, not support. If there is a support team then docs are probably mentioning them already, if not, publicising them.
And treat docs like the professionals they are, don't add more unnecessary checking up to social services' workloads.

I am now on anti-depressants after struggling but refusing to go to the GP out of fear.

If this was the case I would not have seeked help and I was very low at the point I did.

FWIW, I was referred to SS after breaking down and crying at a MW/Consultant appt when I was around 35 weeks pg with DS, it was because of physical pain and the Consultant tried to tell the MW about this, she wouldn't listen and made some disgustingly hurtful remarks to me "sometimes people slip through the net and tragedies happen", that killed.

The SW seen me and gave me the details of the MW to complain as she could see that she completely wasted her time and ignored the advice of the Consultant and because of a lot of her comments to me, she discharged me straight away.

That has really stuck with me and that's what stopped me going to get help when I needed it, it really affected my bonding experience with DS as well, as I thought I was useless and the MW must have thought that so it must be true. sad

Whatnameforme Wed 03-Apr-13 15:10:20

Other then overloading an already stretched, and sometimes failing social services! I know that I wouldn't have spoken to my health visitor or GP about having PND if I thought it would be forwarded to social services. I thought they already had the power to advise social services if they thought a child was at risk? Which is how it should be.

FWIW - The SW asked me if I would like to be referred to a charity/group for disabled parents, she was really lovely but because of the worry at the time, I still declined.

The MW could have referred me to there instead of everything that she did.

Whatnameforme Wed 03-Apr-13 15:13:13

Scho, that's awful behaviour from your midwife!! I'm glad the social worker saw sense! What a horrible way to add even more stress to you.

Whatnameforme Wed 03-Apr-13 15:13:43

Schro*

Whatnameforme Wed 03-Apr-13 15:15:46

Fairy - maybe you need to report you to yourself? blush

Yeah, she actually told me she thought I was going to hurt my DS. hmm This was the first time she had met me, 5 minutes into an appointment where my Consultant who I seen every week was there.

The Consultant said she didn't have the power to change the decision but was obviously very annoyed.

I am a bit better about it now but it was a horrid experience, they actually had the SW visit me while I was in hospital, hours after a very traumatic birth.

I really worry what the effects would be if this was standard procedure.

Welovegrapes Wed 03-Apr-13 15:18:56

Terrible idea sad

FannyFifer Wed 03-Apr-13 15:20:25

Fuck no!

Nilgiri Wed 03-Apr-13 15:27:51

De88, a GP offering to refer someone to an existing service already happens. And the patient being referred can then (usually) make their own decision about whether they're actually getting something useful or supportive out of the service. Just like with all other health services.

What's been suggested above is completely different. There's no service actually on offer, and may never be. And who are these "other agencies"? What are they planning to do with this information?

Also, who will take responsibility for its accuracy?

I gather from MN there are already problems with midwives and HVs writing utter bollocks and casually ticking wrong boxes in maternity notes and red books. Now imagine that wrong box tick being passed automatically to SS and going on a watch list. It's next to impossible to get any correction ever to anything claiming you're mentally ill, because "You would say that, wouldn't you."

Goldmandra Wed 03-Apr-13 15:43:54

GPs and psychiatrists already have a responsibility to inform SS if they feel a child is at risk. I can't see how this would be enhanced by automatic reporting of MH problems. Surely GPs and other medical professionals are better placed than SWs to judge whether the MH problem itself puts a patient's children at risk.

This would simply mean a heavier load on SWs and fewer people asking for help with MH problems, possibly putting more children at risk as a result.

Blu Wed 03-Apr-13 15:54:24

The currency of reporting needed within usual Safeguarding protocols (i.e a duty to repot if there is a child actually at risk) would durely be diluted if every patient with MH difficulties was reported!

And aren't doctors and specialists better used for treating people with depression and MH problems than spending more time filling out endless reports?

raininginbaltimore Wed 03-Apr-13 15:58:50

I have contacted woman's hour about this, but it is an awful idea.

I have two children (aged 3 and 8 months) and I have Bipolar Disorder. After the birth of my daughter 8 months ago I was monitored by the perinatal team and began to become unwell. They were assisting me at home and planning for me to be admitted to a Mother and Baby unit to adjust my medication and care for me more fully.

They were satisfied that although becoming unwell, I was not a danger to my children in any way. However a community mental health worker, without specialist perinatal experience, referre me to social services as a risk. In itself the referral was handled badly, but it left me anxious and paranoid about my own mental health.

I think it is wrong to assume that mental health automatically means danger. I needed support, which social services couldn't provide. As it was they assessed that I was in need to hospital care. There is a huge gap in services for women with mental health problems during and after pregnancy. There is medication from GPs and then there is in-patient care (of which there is a massive shortage). There needs to be support groups, home help, talking therapies etc. so many women are afraid to speak about how they feel because they believe their children might be taken away.

coppertop Wed 03-Apr-13 16:05:19

The message this sends is "Seek help and we'll report you".

Not exactly something that will encourage people to seek help, is it?

It's a terrible idea. I can also see abusive partners using this as a threat. "Do what I say or I'll tell the doctor I think you've got a MH problem. Then they'll get social services on to you."

Doctors are surely there to help and treat their patients, not report them purely because they have a problem that affects their mind rather than their body.

MrsMarigold Wed 03-Apr-13 16:40:10

I agree with what's been said already - a terrible idea.

If HCPs with genuine concerns about the capability of resident parents to care adequately for their resident children already have access to make easy reports to SS, or offer additional support via HVs, what possible good will compulsion do?

I was borderline suicidally depressed before and after DC2, and on the HVs' radar. My children were genuinely at no risk at any time. They were clean, well nourished, emotionally well cared for, etc. But I wouldn't have sought even the minimal support I asked for if I had thought there would have been an automatic SS referral.

DisorganisednotDysfunctional Wed 03-Apr-13 16:51:54

What a totally stupid, self-defeating idea! This thread is packed with arguments and anecdotes that show just how idiotic it is. Dreadful!

Oh, and whatever happened to patient confidentiality? My understanding is that a breach is only acceptable in order to prevent and support detection, investigation and punishment of serious crime and/or to prevent abuse or serious harm to others. This proposal goes a long way beyond that.

tilder Wed 03-Apr-13 16:58:47

When I had pnd depression I was terrified of asking for help as I was convinced they would take my children away. They didn't and the help I received was amazing.

My counselor actually said everything we discussed would be confidential, unless she felt I was a danger to my children (she didn't).

I have no experience of other mental illness when children are involved though.

Agree with all the comments on patient confidentiality, but would be interested to know how things work at the moment. Are we just talking gps or other health professionals as well? IME they do work as a team.

perspective Wed 03-Apr-13 17:20:52

What an awful idea.

I am a CPN and work with many parents suffering various mental health problems. Only a very tiny percentage are referred to Childrens Services, usually because of gross concerns. If we are involved with a family, it is often because SS have referred to us for some support for parents

I agree, many parents with mental health problems are not supported enough but this is because of the cuts to both social and health services. It's a sad fact that childrens centres are loosing funding. We used to have support workers in our team who could do short term intensive support to help parents get plugged in to other support, but hey, they're being cut too. Its very depressing but Childrens Services would simply not be able to offer the majority of parents the sort of support that might be useful.

EauRouge Wed 03-Apr-13 17:23:00

What a completely terrible idea, which idiot came up with this?

Like tidler, I had PND and was reluctant to ask for help because I was paranoid that DD1 would be taken away from me. This kind of scheme will make things a hundred times worse, not better- who the hell is going to ask for help knowing that it will be passed on to SS?

Most mothers with PND are not a risk to their child, they just need a bit of extra support. How about setting up support groups in the local community rather than snitching to SS?

AllPurposeNortherner Wed 03-Apr-13 17:30:02

They already inform SS IF it is thought the child is at risk! Obviously! But 99% of the time this is not the case.

Stupid attention seeking story that will cause terrible problems.

KansasCityOctopus Wed 03-Apr-13 17:52:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

poppypebble Wed 03-Apr-13 18:15:59

Terrible idea that will lead to people not seeking help and at the extremes committing suicide.

Often people with MH problems are already convinced that they are worthless failures - add into the mix the idea that someone thinks you are dangerous to your children and what is left to live for?

I'm not a parent, but I am a teacher with depression and PTSD. I have upwards of 150 children a day in my care. Ofsted think I'm an outstanding teacher - who would I need to be reported to?

joiemecconue Wed 03-Apr-13 18:18:17

In cases of severe mental health problems I think it could be a good idea (I have bipolar disorder and at times as a single parent) to ensure that someone explains to the children about the illness and ensures they are well cared for and supported while the parent is in hospital. I'm not sure if this is a job for social services or a specific youth worker, qualified to answer questions about mental illness and to liaise with other agencies (CMHT/CRHTT) as necessary.

Relatives might not be comfortable or sufficiently informed to allay children's anxieties, community mental health workers are there to support the individual with the illness so there is a big gap in provision for young people who may be frightened and confused when their parent goes into hospital. There is also in my experience little to no support in returning to a parenting role on leave or once discharged. Support workers will take you swimming or dress shopping but don't help with school runs or groceries. Social services might not be the ideal agency but there should be something for families where a parent has a major mental health problem.

joiemecconue Wed 03-Apr-13 18:22:10

Social services are not only there to protect children from 'dangerous' parents but to support children and families during difficult times. I thought it was about accessing services and support.

Nobody with a severe mental illness is going to be managing just fine otherwise how is the illness causing the 'severe impairment' necessary for diagnosis?

pippibluestocking Wed 03-Apr-13 18:22:25

I work in a frontline professional role assessing people with acute MH problems. Like all my colleagues, we have training in safeguarding children and what the risk factors. If we assess a parent whose MH presentation might present a risk to the welfare if their children, we make a referral to Social Services, if we don't think that there is a risk to the children, we don't refer. Incidentally, a parent presenting with very large or repeated overdoses would warrant a referral. The first thing social services will do is see what support they can put in place when a parent is experiencing MH probs, not to take the children away, that is always the last resort, and even I have been surprised by the extents they will go to to keep the family together rather than remove the children. Social Services have limited resources and could not respond effectively if every person presenting with a MH prob was referred. You need to rely on the judgement of professionals in determining who needs to be referred.

Nilgiri Wed 03-Apr-13 18:50:47

Reversing cuts to MH services and increasing support services to be taken up where wanted = good idea.

Creating compulsory SS "and other agency" list of citizens diagnosed with MH issues = awful awful idea.

TeWiSavesTheDay Wed 03-Apr-13 19:08:07

I kind of think yes - but, caveat, only of the Dr feels the children are likely to be at risk - I'm thinking of things like unintentional neglect by a depressed parent.

AND ss would need the funding (buckets of it, which I know is pie in the sky thinking) and staff to do what is helpful in these situations, carers around in the morning/afterschool. Children invited to take part in play therapy/youth clubs with other kids in similar situations/therapy for themselves.

All if these things would gave helped enormously as a child with a bi-polar mother. Would she have welcomed them? Absolutely not. But it would have given ME a chance. Maybe things would not have got so bad that she started to hit us.

quoteunquote Wed 03-Apr-13 19:22:36

to get a gun license in this country you need to see your GP, who must give you a clear bill of mental health,

This has created a big problem which appears not to have any resolution, a lot of countryside social lives revolve around shooting, so those who are experiencing difficulties are reluctant to volunteer that they are experiencing depression, because it will mean isolation from their peer group, when they lose their licence.

There is a very high rate of depression in farming and rural industry, with terrible consequences.

If people know their information will be passed on, they will be far less likely to seek help, so fewer people will receive help,

It would be far better to enable the GPs to provide more and better services,

Access to instant long term counselling and therapy, would be a start, at the moment people wait months for a few short sessions, which is not acceptable, and achieves little, it tends to create additional frustration.

Dawndonna Wed 03-Apr-13 19:25:41

Further stigmatising mental health sufferers helps nobody.

minkembra Wed 03-Apr-13 19:35:01

No, unless it is because they can offer practical help and support.

I saw perinatal psychiatric team before i had dcs because i was high risk for PND. they were great and had practical help and advice to offer including letting me know that if i needed it there was the option of going into a PND unit with the dcs. so i would not be scared to ask for help.
The HVs were also excellent and kept an extra eye on me and again offered practical help.
plus they were there to keep an eye on the dcs which is of course the most important thing. (the dcs were fine and i was mostly fine but it helped to know there was a net if i fell. i am not sure Ss can offer the same net for what is after all a medical problem)

colditz Wed 03-Apr-13 19:36:18

If I thought for a second that my depression would result in my being reported to the social services, there is no way in hell I would have ever sought help. My children would have been raised by a severely depressed mother all their lives, but nobody would have noticed because I've never abused or neglected them.

How is that better than them being raised by someone who seeks treatment for the medical problem she has, when she has it?

Someone with cancer is going to have problems raising their children without support, should they all be reported like criminals too?

Selks Wed 03-Apr-13 19:36:25

Terrible idea.

GPs need sufficient training in child protection so that they can recognise and report to social services any children that are at risk - from parental MH issues or for any other reason. They can then refer if necessary.

Other than that absolutely no call for automatic reporting. Would do much more harm than good to child welfare as people would just hide the fact that they're struggling with their MH

I'm a social worker.

Tee2072 Wed 03-Apr-13 19:38:41

I am very open about my MH issues but this is the worst idea in the world.

Just because I have those MH issues does not mean my child is more at risk than one with a mother without issues.

People would absolutely stop seeking help if this happened.

Thinking about this more ... the only thing it would achieve is to relieve doctors of the burden of deciding how much someone's mental illness affects them, and giving that decision to a social worker instead confused

Given that the GP or psychiatrist is making that call as part of care anyway (ie to assess what medication and other support to recommend) surely they can be trusted to decide which patients are a potential danger to their families.

MmeLindor Wed 03-Apr-13 20:00:19

Even if this didn't run the risk of terrifying many parents into not seeking help, what about the fact that MH support is - in some areas of the country - extremely patchy?

Wouldn't adding to the workload of MH professionals mean that even less patients could be helped?

Not to mention the already over stretched SS workers.

Terrible idea.

PessimisticMissPiggy Wed 03-Apr-13 20:26:10

Oh my goodness. No way.

tiredlady Wed 03-Apr-13 20:27:39

I am a mental health professional and have often referred patients of mine to SS. I feel that MH services as a rule don't refer people often enough. Whilst physical/sexual abuse would never be ignored, I find that emotional neglect - which is a HUGE issue in my patients and their children, gets overlooked by lots of staff. The effects of emotional neglect are harder to see, and often if a child is fed, clothed and going to school, SS won't take the case futher.

Unfortunately, due to the massive case load of SS, even when quite serious things are referred to them, they simply do not have the capacity to deal with it.

Jayne266 Wed 03-Apr-13 21:17:40

I suffer from depression and I can tell when am getting bad and I go to the doctors at this point. (the doctors is happy with this as she knows I am good at controlling it) if ss were to be informed I can honestly say I would never go to the doctors about it again.

Leaningtoweroflisa Wed 03-Apr-13 21:28:38

As a psychiatrist, I have to say I find this is not a helpful idea for the parents or professionals involved.

I am trained to assess people's mental health, the risks they pose to the,selves and others ( including their children) and any unmet needs adding to their MH condition. I'm pretty good at the first two but can't always make much of a difference to the third- where the sw on the team is often key. In addition I have mandatory child protection training on a regular basis. As tiredlady rightly says, we don't refer to as enough and not for emotional neglect, especially as ss is so over stretched.

Part of my job is assessing people for therapy and delivering therapy. I have to reach a balance between providing a therapeutic space where patients can safely talk about distressing and disturbing thoughts and fantasies - eg a mum with pnd or OCD needing to let out thoughts of hurting her child - while at the same time monitoring for signs of actual risk to self and others. I think if someone tried to enforce me having to inform ss on a mandatory basis in this part of my job, I would have to tell them to fuck off. In somewhat more polite and reasoned words.

As a mum who struggled horribly with pnd / post natal OCD and had just those awful sorts of thoughts, I would not seek help. It was bad enough being a psychiatrist and experiencing this, that was enough to stop me seeking help as I did not want to be referred to my colleagues. A mandatory visit from ss would have possibly pushed me over the edge of being able to cope - the idea of it. Instead of distressing and intrusive thoughts of hurting myself and ds, I would have been more likely to act on these if I'd managed to ask my gp for help and got smacked with a ss referral.

So to summarise my rambly post:

- insulting to me as a highly trained professional, this is something I see as a skill I need to maintain for my patients' well being
- would stop me seeking help as a patient
- would probably actually increase my risk of harming myself and ds.

Thank fuck I've recovered now.

nenevomito Wed 03-Apr-13 21:48:01

This is an awful idea the further stigmatises mental health issues and one, that if implemented, would stop parents from seeking help with mental health problems for fear of social services becoming involved.

Having a mental illness does not automatically make you a bad parent or mean your children need intervention from external agencies and I strongly oppose the insinuation that it does.

I have quite serious mental health problems, but the treatment I have for them means that I am just as able to care for my children like any other parent. They do well at school and nursery, we have lots of good family time and they are secure, loved and well cared and very much loved. There are no reasons for social services to be involved at all.

Would it be better for my children to be parented by someone with mercurial moods who was unstable and untreated? Of course not. But would the knowledge that social services would be informed when I first went to the doctor for help stopped me from seeking that help? Yes it would.

Adult mental health services will already involve social services if they believe children to be at risk, just like any other professional body, but mental illness does not automatically mean that children will be at risk so there is no need whatsoever for them to be informed automatically.

Mental illness does not equal bad parent. Full stop.

TheChaoGoesMu Wed 03-Apr-13 21:56:32

I think this is an appalling idea on many levels and it stigmatises parents with mental health difficulties. If a doctor thinks that the children are at risk then they absolutely should report to ssd. But if they dont then what is the point? Ssd are overloaded as it is, the last thing they need is a tick box exercise, and the extra workload will prevent them from actually trying to protect children in danger. In addition to this, parents will be unlikely to step forward and ask for help if they think ssd will automatically be involved. Which will have a catastrophic effect on parents that need help, and in turn some children that need protecting. Utterly ridiculous. Doctors need to be able to use their professional judgement rather than adhere to this shite which will make the social work profession even more ineffective with regard to the work they do.

Lucyellensmum95 Wed 03-Apr-13 22:11:09

Havin suffered from PND and now generalised anxiety and depression I can tell you that my DD is categorically not at risk. She is loved and supported just as much as any other child. I totally resent the implication that my MH issues affect my parenting ability or mean that i will somehow harm my child or not be as good a parent as someone without "issues".

Thankfully I have an understanding GP and in all the times i have been sobbing in her surgery not once has she ever even questioned anything re my DD.

I am on medication now and was before - i think if i wasn't on this medication and hadn't had counselling i might not be here - If i thought my GP would be compelled to inform SS and I would have to prove myself as a parent, I would never have sought help and that scares me!

Lucyellensmum95 Wed 03-Apr-13 22:21:33

tiredlady as a MH professional i am surprised you take this stance - what is it exactly that you do? I have been suicidal and the only reason I am still here is my DD - that is because I adore her, why the hell would i neglect her?

curryeater Wed 03-Apr-13 22:36:20

Horrible idea. I thought the Hippopotamus oath was exactly because confidentiality is crucial in medicine.

ReallyTired Wed 03-Apr-13 22:53:32

Referring MH patients to SS is over kill, it will overload SS and discourage patients from seeking help.

I think it would be better for GP surgeries to employ a CPN or a health visitor to visit families. They could deliever councelling and actually decide whether the family needs SS support after spending an hour in the family's home. A CPN could also feed back information to the doctor whether medication is working or not.

DevonCiderPunk Wed 03-Apr-13 23:01:28

I can only see that this would dissuade struggling parents from seeking help at all.

Whilst it categorically does not follow that mentally ill parent = vulnerable child, it would be far better for parents to seek support from their HCPs and that HCP can then decide whether children are at risk on a case-by-case basis. Knowing that a referral is automatic would drive very desperate families away and leave any children at risk unknown. Far better to treat, support and empower a struggling parent, risk assessing as necessary, and referring only when risk is identified.

Besides the confidentiality implications, SS are overwhelmed with referrals already. Receiving a referral for every parent presenting with depression or anxiety would further dilute scarce resources.

Macdog Wed 03-Apr-13 23:01:53

Tiredlady, I am so grateful you are not involved in my care.
Where there is risk to children, yes SS should be involved. But for other cases??!
I suffer from depression, and have done for a long, long time.
If I thought a MH professional would report me to SS for seeking help I would be horrified. It would put me off totally.

KristinaM Wed 03-Apr-13 23:03:32

Another vote for this being a terrible idea. For all the reasons mentioned below

TheChaoGoesMu Wed 03-Apr-13 23:06:45

In fairness to tired lady, I dont think she is saying every case should be referred? Just talking about her experience in an overwhelmed system that does struggle to provide help when its needed. If this is what you are saying tired lady then I agree that it is true.

Floweryhat Wed 03-Apr-13 23:10:20

Something needs to be done to improve support for children who have parents with mental health problems. So many on this thread are coming at the issue from their own perspective as a parent who's had mental health problems. What this should be a discussion about is the needs of the children who have parents with these issues. I am not saying referrals to SS are the answer. However, children with depressed parents, parents with eating disorders, paranoid conditions, serious anxiety etc do need more support than they get, and parents with those issues are not the best placed people to objectively assess the impact that their condition is having on their kids.

I speak as an adult who grew up with 2 parents with different mental health issues.

ReallyTired Wed 03-Apr-13 23:13:06

My understanding was that tiredlady said that many cases were under refered. I imagine that when someone has got the stage of actually having help from a mental health professional then their depression must be pretty severe. Prehaps tiredlady sees more extreme cases of depression than what the typical case that presents at the GP.

I feel that a struggling parent should have a home visit from a mental health professional. The mental health professional can then decide what type of support (if any!) is appriopiate.

In the past health visitors used to do listening visits and prehaps this is a better form of support.

FloweryHat - sometimes the children need additional support. Many will be completely oblivious to the parent's illness.

CantSewWontSew Wed 03-Apr-13 23:27:14

I work in MH. I absolutely agree that this would deter people from seeking help which in turn would increase any risk to children and cut off the parent from any type of support. I also know that SS cannot cope as it is, let alone with a huge new load of referrals to look into. However, I do think that support options should be discussed with parents who present with MH issues and also that better support should be available in schools for kids to access if they need. Place2Be is a good example.

ReallyTired Wed 03-Apr-13 23:31:38

All young carers need support whether their parents have something respectable like cancer or shock horror! MH issues. Having a parent with serious long term disablity is hard.

It would be deemed ridicolous to refer a child automatically to SS just because Mum has breast cancer. Yet such a child definately needs extra emotional support from somewhere.

SirBoobAlot Wed 03-Apr-13 23:43:52

This is a terrible idea. And I greatly feel that the conclusion they have come to is over simplified.

It will terrify people who need to access help. Those who might be suffering from PND, and also those suffering from longer term mental illnesses. So could - potentially - pose more issues for the child in the long run.

Tying in with that, if the children are not being supporting sufficiently, then the next logical thought is that evidently the parents are not receiving the treatment they need. Which they will be more unlikely to do with the threat of social services hanging over their heads.

I have Borderline Personality Disorder. I'm well aware of it, open about it, and educated surrounding my illness. I'm also aware of the impact it could have on my son, and have taken steps to prevent that. I am a good mother. I'm not perfect, I make mistakes - because I am human, not because I have a mental illness.

All professionals have a duty of care towards any children who may be in a situation where there is concern for the well being of a child anyway.

I remember being warned a while back about a new policy that was possibly coming in about parents having to disclose the medications they were taking. My reaction? I stopped taking my ADs and APs immediately.

Support people with mental health issues to be the best parents they can be though treatment, medication where needed and parenting groups aimed to deal with difficult situations. Don't put them under more pressure to appear 'fine'.

joiemecconue Wed 03-Apr-13 23:56:47

I agree with ReallyTired.

minkembra Thu 04-Apr-13 00:34:24

floweryhat it is true. children of people with ongoing MH issues should get support. i am not sure that an Ss referral should be automatic though nor the best source of support. (unless they were given more resources)
I do worry about what would happens to my kids if i were to become ill. i do not want them to have to 'deal' with it.
That applies to any illness.

WorraLiberty Thu 04-Apr-13 00:55:33

Absolutely awful idea.

Most parents I know recoil at the very thought of SS getting involved in their lives...rightly or wrongly that's the way it is.

I'm sure this would stop the majority of people seeking much needed help.

nextphase Thu 04-Apr-13 02:39:19

Terrible idea (are you seeing a theme here?)

Ye, if there is a child protection issue, with for ANY REASON, report to SS.
Why stigmatise MH issues further? Its not the only reason children are neglected?

Oh, but you could train Dr's more in PND - "you obviously don't have PND as your BF, and managed to get dressed and come here today" put me off getting help for a further 6 horrible months til DH dragged me back.

PurpleStorm Thu 04-Apr-13 07:15:16

This sounds like a very bad idea.

I think this would frighten a lot of parents away from seeking help for any MH problems they might have or develop.

Also, referring every single case of a parent with MH problems to SS would presumably greatly increase their workload, and increase the chances of cases where the MH issues do present a child safeguarding issue slipping through the cracks.

I'm also pretty sure that GPs and MH professionals are already required to refer on to SS in cases where they believe the parents MH problems are bad enough to put the child at risk.

If I thought for one minute SS would be informed about my PND I would not have gone to my GP. I must admit my HV came round a few times unannounced after I was prescribed Ads, just to see how I was doing. Perhaps she was checking all was ok. And if it weren't she might have contacted SS. But as a one size fits all rule. Bad idea, really bad.

gazzalw Thu 04-Apr-13 08:39:10

It will serve no 'useful' purpose than to further stigmatise those with mental health problems and reverse much good work done by professionals and stakeholders over the past fifteen to twenty years.

It truly is a slippery slope..... [frown]

Lucyellensmum95 Thu 04-Apr-13 09:04:05

joiemecconue"Nobody with a severe mental illness is going to be managing just fine otherwise how is the illness causing the 'severe impairment' necessary for diagnosis?" You clearly know nothing about mental illness.

I have mental illness - I need help, I am getting it, from my GP and via counselling. I do NOT need a social worker and I do not emotionally neglect my DD. I do not need extra support in caring for my child - its the one thing i CAN do actually.

JaneGMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 04-Apr-13 09:10:21

Morning all,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this thread.

The Woman's Hour discussion about this topic will be broadcast at 10am today - looks like it's the second item on the programme.

MNHQ

Hear hear, lucyellensmum.

Nilgiri Thu 04-Apr-13 09:18:12

To put this in perspective, there are parents on MN with severe physical impairments who have begged and begged for more help from SS and got zilch, even when SS are legally obliged to provide it.

IIRC, at least one disabled MNer has had SS threaten to open child protection proceedings if she doesn't drop her request for domestic assistance.

So what is this magical extra "support" that would be forthcoming if we had compulsory notification?

quietlysuggests Thu 04-Apr-13 09:21:38

As a doctor working with those with mental health difficulties this is a terrible idea.
Every monther who first seeks help has delayed due to fears that her children will be taken off her. Every mother has thought of this. Every mother has had to be assured by her GP or DH or wise friend that the Doctor will be able to see that she is a great mum, just in need of help. If it was mandatory to report? Or collect data?
NO NO NO, leave it up to me and my clinical judgement as to report to SS or not.
DO spend a bit of money giving my service another social worker with a special interest in mental health perhaps, or maybe a CPN, or maybe a care worker. Spend the money on that and then EVERY person who attends our service and is a parent can be offered suppoort within the home. That would be wonderful. That would really help the children, if someone from the team could do a home visit in all cases, in order to better support families. I'd go for that.
But this data collection thingy?

Does anyone else think even the title of it
"WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?"
is screaming panic and stigma, like something out of The Simpsons?

SirBoobAlot Thu 04-Apr-13 09:35:12

Agree completely, Lucyellensmum.

Pilgit Thu 04-Apr-13 09:58:42

a bloody awful idea. there are many fab SWs but this would stigmatise the parent and we would then be made subject to other peoples interpretations of MH issues. it would feed the inherant paranoia and would only make people not come forward for treatment. this would cause greater problems.

there are very few parents with MH issues that are a danger to their children.

KansasCityOctopus Thu 04-Apr-13 10:05:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Goldmandra Thu 04-Apr-13 10:17:39

Well nothing that guy said made me think they need to do this.
GPs and psychiatrists can already refer to SS if they feel a family needs support. All that is lacking is the funding for supporting those families before they reach crisis point.

Another box ticking exercise and more paperwork for clinicians and SWs is the last thing anyone needs.

joiemecconue Thu 04-Apr-13 11:16:02

hmm I know enough about my own mental illness to recognise retrospectively that when I've been ill in hospital or having treatment at home nobody has put the children first. It shouldn't be stigmatising to ask the question about how best to support young carers.

Lucyellensmum95 Thu 04-Apr-13 11:25:35

Thats a good and fair point but there are degrees of mental illness, not everyone needs that levels of support and those that do should get it. I dont however think ss are necessarily the right service.

joiemecconue Thu 04-Apr-13 11:36:59

I agree with you there, and I don't think it should be an automatic referral but as a previous poster said a home visit from a suitably qualified family support or youth worker would be good. I hope my children aren't damaged and I know I don't hit or starve or otherwise abuse them but I have long episodes of depression where I'm detached from them. It can't be good for them. sad There is lots of help for me, I have a great cpn and psychiatrist but nobody has ever assessed the children to see if they need extra support.

headinhands Thu 04-Apr-13 11:38:12

I think there is such an unhelpful taboo wrt ss that the system suggested above at present would deter people from seeking medical help as is clearly seen from the posts above. It would be more productive if the myths surrounding the work of the ss were addressed to dispel the notion that they are eager to pounce and snatch babies away.

raininginbaltimore Thu 04-Apr-13 11:41:41

I asked for help and support for my son and husband. Over and over, we asked social care, sure start, doctors, etc when I was admitted. They couldn't help because my husband works full time and earns too much £30k).

If this had been in place when I needed help, I would not have gone to my GP.

Sincerely hope this never comes into force

VivaLeBeaver Thu 04-Apr-13 11:45:59

As a general rule, no.

However there is already something in place. A dr or MH nurse will tell someone at the start of an appt that stuff is confidential unless there is something that's deemed a child protection issue and then they have to report. So that safeguard is already there.

I think anything above that will discourage people from getting help.

joiemecconue Thu 04-Apr-13 11:46:35

What do people think is the best way of not overlooking children's needs without deterring people from seeking help? Should everyone in the family have a carer's assessment automatically?

joiemecconue Thu 04-Apr-13 11:49:39

I think the safeguarding threshold is quite high, somewhere between that and everything being fine there must be lots of invisible and worried children who don't understand what's going on.

Perhaps not in primary care but when people are more unwell?

Goldmandra Thu 04-Apr-13 11:58:45

The mental health professionals already refer families to SS for support as well as if there is a CP concern. What is needed is funding for SS to give that support because at the moment they get assessed and then told they can have nothing unless the child is judged to be at risk.

joiemecconue Thu 04-Apr-13 12:01:38

Perhaps it doesn't need to be the main ss, perhaps a mh sw with special training in supporting young carers in a family context could be attached to each community team?

Goldmandra Thu 04-Apr-13 12:12:24

Perhaps it would be more effective to offer family support attached to the MH team who can refer to SS if the family is in agreement or there is a CP concern.

No matter how much effort goes into changing people's perception of SS there will always be scare stories and media twisting facts so some parents will avoid asking for support if they know there will be an autonatic referral to SS.

I fail to see how a SW doing an initial assessment will have a better understanding of how a parent's MH issue could affect a child than the psychiatrists who are qualified to treat them.

joiemecconue Thu 04-Apr-13 12:17:59

What do we even know about longer term outcomes for children of mentally ill parents? Maybe there is no cause for concern after all. I know when I raise the subject my psychiatrist misunderstands and thinks I want reassurance that I'm doing a good job.

TeWiSavesTheDay Thu 04-Apr-13 12:30:56

The psychiatrist are not there to treat the children though, they are there to treat their patient. What is best for the patient is not always best for the child. How often does the therapist ever even meet the children of their patients? All they know is what the patient says and what they can reasonably guess to be the case.

Children of people with mental health problems are often, effectively, young carers but are not really recognised as such and don't get given any support.

I agree that more help for child carers would be better - this costs a lot of money. My ideal, as I said up thread would be help at home, to ensure children get to school on time, fed and appropriately dressed, make sure they have dinner, that someone cares if they do their homework.

I know loads of people are going to be horribly offended by that list, but those are key things that can get missed. It also just gives an extra person around the home for the child to talk to about how they are feeling and coping.

Everyone has gone NOOO not SS! I'm not abusing/neglecting my kids. But SS isn't/shouldn't be just about that. It should also be about putting families together with the help they need to get through a rough patch. If they had more funding, this kind of thing would be so, so helpful to those children.

I am someone who grew up with a bi-polar parent, we also took in my best friend (also bipolar!). I didn't get any therapy until I went and cried at my GP and asked for it after DD was born. I was never given any help or support even from my school who knew what was going on.

I am lucky compared to my cousin whose mother is schizophrenic. Everything was about helping his mum, and he was left to eat nothing but bread and butter and drink nothing but coke, and drop out of school because that was 'good enough' care.

He needed help and he didn't get any.

madamginger Thu 04-Apr-13 12:41:19

I do think that children of parents with MH problems need help though. My mum had very severe depression all through my teens and i had absolutely NO-ONE to talk too.
When I was 17 i tried to commit suicide because of the stress of living through my mothers problems, she was in and out of hospital and my sister and I were farmed out to family members.
It was SHIT.

Nilgiri Thu 04-Apr-13 12:44:19

What do people think is the best way of not overlooking children's needs

joie, you clearly aren't overlooking your children's needs. You'd love to have support for them - but it isn't on offer.

The best way to help children is to spend money on running such services. Which ain't gonna happen right now.

It strikes me that compulsory notification is a way to appear to be "doing something", without actually spending the money.

Goldmandra Thu 04-Apr-13 12:45:49

But SS isn't/shouldn't be just about that. It should also be about putting families together with the help they need to get through a rough patch. If they had more funding, this kind of thing would be so, so helpful to those children.

Absolutely but SS referrals can already be made for families that need this support. The reason they don't get it is funding.

If there is a concern that MH workers are not referring families for support they could get then they simply need to be better informed. IME MH workers can see the need for support in families, they refer them and then SS say there is nothing they can do.

The proposals are about requiring MH professionals to refer certain patients' families to SS. They are still expected to decide which ones need help. Requiring them to refer to a service that doesn't have the resources to help unless the family is in crisis isn't going to change any outcomes.

ReallyTired Thu 04-Apr-13 12:52:28

"Perhaps it doesn't need to be the main ss, perhaps a mh sw with special training in supporting young carers in a family context could be attached to each community team?"

Such a person used to be called a health visitor. Prehaps we need health visitors type people to work with families up to the age of eleven or maybe 13.

joiemecconue Thu 04-Apr-13 12:57:00

I was thinking more along the lines of the approved social worker, but yes, they could at the very least meet the children and hand out leaflets for local young carers and other things. Although why can't cpns do this without being asked hmm it's a tiny extension of their role?

Goldmandra Thu 04-Apr-13 12:59:54

Maybe all that needs to happen is some training and conferences to help the two agencies understand each other's services better and improve communication. Then they can work together to make the changes they feel will be most effective without anyone being required to jump through hoops which make parents feel threatened.

Floweryhat Thu 04-Apr-13 19:22:40

"I know enough about my own mental illness to recognise retrospectively that when I've been ill in hospital or having treatment at home nobody has put the children first. It shouldn't be stigmatising to ask the question about how best to support young carers."

THIS

My own parents would argue to the hilt that they haven't neglected me emotionally or ignored my needs or my sbling's. They would especially have failed to notice the impact their conditons were having on me at the very time it was happening. The reality as a child living through it was very different than what they imagined they were providing in the way of emotional stability. Of course it will not be the same for all, but the fears of parents should not prevent children being supported. And I re-iterate, reporting all to SS isn't necessarily the answer!

I find myself wondering why a referral for support is such a stigma, however?

Floweryhat Thu 04-Apr-13 19:24:00

Oh, and our family had a social worker at one stage. He was brilliant and my mother and I both have only positive memories of him and his involvement with us. It was just a shame the support was withdrawn so fast.

Lucyellensmum95 Thu 04-Apr-13 19:36:01

I am always honest with any health professional about my thoughts and feelings, I believe I am a good and attentive mother. I am not perfect but I am probably a better mother than a fair few parents without MH issues. Some parents are just feckless lazy fuckers who put the needs of their children afer their own - what support to THOSE children have?

All of the counsellors/Drs I have spoken to about my mental health have made it clear that If they feel i am a danger to myself or anyone else or unable to care for my children they would have no choice but to involve other agencies. This is referred to in the blurb at the begining of each section of treatment i have had and then not mentioned again.

I don't need help looking after my DD, i don't need parenting classes, sometime i need help to realise that walking in front of a train is a really bad idea, but the reason i don't do this is because I love my children.

poppypebble Thu 04-Apr-13 19:42:37

My sister is seriously mentally ill. She is also the best parent I've ever met. She has 4 DCs and my god they adore her and she adores them. She does have a social worker as she has been sectioned a few times and spent 6 months in a mother and baby unit after DC 4 was born. The SW checked up a few times and that was that - my sister has a husband and family who would step in if needed, but she is the children's primary carer and she is fantastic.

My other sister, with no MH issues, is actually quite cold to her children and over the years has spent less and less time with them to the extent that if they wanted a hug they went to their dad or their aunties. The youngest is 14 now and she makes no secret of the fact that she can't wait for her to leave home. She loves her dogs, the kids come lower down the list.

I know which mother I'd rather have.

tiredlady Thu 04-Apr-13 19:47:56

LucyEllensmum and Macdog.

I don't think i made my earlier post clear.

I did not say I agreed with the suggestion at all. I think it will deter people from seeking help and SS will grind to a halt under the weight of so many inappropriate referrals.

However the point I was trying to make is that overall, I think MH professionals should be making more referals than they are. I don't think enough MH workers think about the children of their patients enough and they rarely look beyong the obvious physical and material things

As I said before unintentional emotional neglect is a HUGE issue and I think children are being failed because SS, MH, schools etc just don't know what to do about it

VikingLady Thu 04-Apr-13 20:37:21

I can see this from both sides - a child affected (and still adversely affected) by my mother's MH issues, and as a mother awaiting dx for ASD.

DM delayed seeking help for many years as she was convinced SS would take us away, with the result that her PND turned into long term depression. It's ingrained now, and she is still fighting it 30 years later. If SS had got involved, she believes the stress and the implication that she was a bad mother would have led her to actually commit suicide, rather than just thinking about it (she came pretty close). No-one offered us children any support, but she was herself supported by a fantastic psychiatrist to be a good mother. I still rank her as one of the best mothers I know, and I learnt some very valuable lessons from her about taking care of people, empathy, and how to carry on when you feel like you can't. I wouldn't change it, and neither would she (I asked).

I am partway through the dx process for asd. I know there is very little to be done about it - no treatment as it is not exactly an illness, but I am doing this because of DD. I have been a good mother to her so far (when I concentrate on something, I do it to the nth degree!), and am going for a dx to access help/information in how to bring her up if she is NT. If this comes in, I will have to stop the process. I don't know whether that would impair her in any way, but I certainly don't trust SS to take a balanced view of my circumstances - they are human, and humans can be irrational and prejudiced. My HV told me that "everyone knows ASD is a result of neglect or abuse by the mother. And people who are abused usually abuse their own kids". She truly believes this.

Can't risk it.

Cancelling appointments tomorrow.

Goldmandra Thu 04-Apr-13 20:56:23

As I said before unintentional emotional neglect is a HUGE issue and I think children are being failed because SS, MH, schools etc just don't know what to do about it

Something clearly needs to happen but telling SS about a whole bunch of families, some of whom may need support, but without them getting extra funding to offer the support isn't going to help anyone.

My HV told me that "everyone knows ASD is a result of neglect or abuse by the mother. And people who are abused usually abuse their own kids". She truly believes this.

That is terrifying! Have you reported her to her superiors? She seriously needs some training before she does any more damage angry

ReallyTired Thu 04-Apr-13 20:59:14

As I said before unintentional emotional neglect is a HUGE issue and I think children are being failed because SS, MH, schools etc just don't know what to do about it

Unintentional emotional neglect happens in families without mental health problems as well. Should every family in the UK be referred to ss just incase?

SirBoobAlot Thu 04-Apr-13 21:10:18

Viking please do not cancel your appointment. Instead complain to the supervisors and request a different HV.

As for emotional neglect going unnoticed... This is not exclusive to families with mental illness concerns though.

Horrendous idea. Normal safeguarding measures are sufficient - GPs have training in this and I trust their professional judgment. Why single out people with MH problems? It's stigmatising and discriminatory. At a time when support and services are being cut to the bone it can do nothing but harm.

Lucyellensmum95 Thu 04-Apr-13 21:14:14

I think this too REally tired. To be fair, i would want my child to get support if she needed it due to my illness, as with any illness - however if i felt that SS would have become involved then I would have categorically not asked for help.

How would you provide that support though, from a child who is being emotionally neglected? If i was neglecting my child emotionally how is a SW going to help? Genuine question?

I feel quite gutted to be honest, i try my very best to be a good parent but now feel that I am going to ruin my DD's life which has always been my biggest fear sad

Lucyellensmum95 Thu 04-Apr-13 21:26:46

OMG viking - i am gobsmacked reading that about your HV!! She needs to be struck off! That is total and utter bollocks right there! Please please please don't cancel the appointment.

I totally don't trust HVs im sorry but I have heard too many horror stories usually revolving around them being misinformed or thinking they know more than they actually do.

Take mine for example - When i had my DD, i was dealing with the terminal illness of my father who was being mistreted in a "care" home, he had alzheimers. I had PND (i can see this now) and also had to have surgery. I was absolutely paranoid that either me or my DD would die. My doctor (different GP to the one i have now) sent my HV round as emergency - She made come comments about some bin bags in the front garden (We were having a clear out FFS), did the Edingburgh Test - told me i was clinically depressed and that she was extremely worried about me. She then went on to suggest that i would help myself greatly by letting DP take the baby out for a day on a sunday and have a cooking day so that i could cook food for the freezer - she even went on about how she would cook beouf bourginon etc (to the point of talking about the recipe) etc hmm. She then re-iterated how concerned she was and that she would be back the following day - do you know what, that was the very last time i saw her - or any other HV apart from at weigh clinics etc. Never followed it up. My depression wasn't picked up for another year, by which time i was pretty screwed. So forgive me if i have no truck with non-medically trained "professionals" idea of support.

tiredlady Thu 04-Apr-13 21:46:21

Viking
please don't cancel your appointment. Doctors only refer patients when they have concerns about a child's welfare. Simply having a diagnosis of a mental health illness doesn't mean anything. Doctors should ask their patients about how their illness affects their functioning, and that includes their ability to look after children. If you have no concerns about your parenting then the doctor won't either.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Thu 04-Apr-13 21:59:03

I am a mental health professional and have often referred patients of mine to SS. I feel that MH services as a rule don't refer people often enough. Whilst physical/sexual abuse would never be ignored, I find that emotional neglect - which is a HUGE issue in my patients and their children, gets overlooked by lots of staff. The effects of emotional neglect are harder to see, and often if a child is fed, clothed and going to school, SS won't take the case futher.

As the child of a mentally ill mother that was my experience growing up. Social services could've and should've done more to protect our (mine and my siblings) emotional well-being without necessarily breaking up the family. My experiences were 40 years ago now but it seems to me that things are no further along now than they were then. Huge stigma still surrounds mental illness and help for those affected by it is still sadly lacking.

UterusUterusGhali Thu 04-Apr-13 22:06:30

Hmmm.

I've recently (in the last couple if days) visited my GP and had an emergency mental health review.

Ss and children's services have been informed. sad
I wish I'd never gone. Cs have phoned my estranged husband, which has given him another stick to beat me with.

I'm NOT a bad mother. The fact I sought help and was very honest surely should count for something.

While ss are visiting me, they are not visiting someone who's children are at risk.

ReallyTired Thu 04-Apr-13 22:23:06

If a single mother needs hospitalisation then there may well be no choice for social services to be involved. If a single mother had cancer then her children might have to be taken into care while she had high dose chemo.

Goldmandra Thu 04-Apr-13 22:25:04

While ss are visiting me, they are not visiting someone who's children are at risk.

Have you been told that it is because they believe that your children are at risk? Could it be that they have referred your family for support services?

Sometimes SWs can appear to be looking for abuse when they have actually been tasked with finding support for a family. Don't make any assumptions. Ask direct questions and expect honest and clear answers.

Try to find some reassurance in the fact that SS work very hard to keep children with their parents, even when what's happening at home appears to be really dire. You certainly don't sound like you're likely to lose yours.

Also try to see the SW as a key to support for your children. Explore carefully what might be available for them and expect the SW to do whatever he/she can to help them access that support.

I hope the process improves for you very soon.

Unfortunatelyanxious Thu 04-Apr-13 22:41:01

I have recently seen a CPN and have been under the care of psychiatric services before. They asked the ages of any dc aged under 18, which scared me. I find the utter fear of SS intervention enough to make me just want to stop everything. I have done everything I can to minimise the effect on my dc.

When my middle DS was a baby I was hospitalised with PND, this was my most serious incidence. Though I could barely speak the nursery nurse said to me however ill you are interact with him. I did though I wanted to die, it was the best thing anyone said to me. I do my very best, I feel inadequate enough as it is without this piece of news which has made me feel awful.

BrittaPie Fri 05-Apr-13 02:04:43

I once had a sw come and see me because I was very very mentally ill, to check baby dd was ok.

The woman had a brew, quick chat about how we were, if we had support, if I was accepting treatment, then said we were fine and off she went.

It wasn't as bad as you'd think. Pointless, because she wouldn't have uncovered anything from that, but not the terrible event that I was worried about.

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