AIBU to wonder where the support is for children's mental health vs physical...(8 Posts)
(Name changed for exactly the reasons I'm talking about....)
My son was recently sexually abused by a new au pair. I'm talking about the level that could theoretically mean a life sentence for the abuser (although we know how likely that is...) The only upside is that my son told us very quickly.
He is a victim of crime. It is in no way his fault (obviously) - any more that it would be the 'fault' of a child with a serious physical illness.
If it was a sudden, serious physical illness, he'd not only get immediate treatment on the NHS, but the "narrative" would be about how "brave" he is. There would be no stigma about people knowing. Charities provide trips, visits, celebrations of recovery. Instead, we have to tell him "You did everything right, it's not your fault - but don't tell people" - what sort of mixed message is that...?
He now has severe and worsening anxiety - understandably. To get any treatment, we have to have agreement from the police (which we have been given). The waiting lists for NHS help are ridiculous and our GP said it wasn't effective anyway. I've had to find my own therapist for him (and ihat's not easy) - and pay for it (which I'd be happy to do a thousand times over - but not everyone can do that). It's made even harder because a huge % of therapists won't take a child on pre-trial (and the trial is probably a long long way off - we haven't even got the international arrest warrant issued yet, despite what has now emerged as multiple complaints from different counties in the UK, and the police being aware he's been trying to find another job as an au pair since).
There are lots of charities for adult survivors - but hardly anything for children. Why? Why does there have to be all the secrecy? He has done nothing wrong, and everything right. I'm trying to make sure he knows that.
Where though, are the resources? I used to work as a fundraiser and I know how utterly disproportionate funds raised are vs actual needs. High profile causes get publicity, which leads to more resources. How do you therefore get the resources to help if everything has to be hushed up all the time.
Sorry if this has become a ramble. I'm angry, and whilst most of my anger is obviously against the abuser, I'm also getting angrier about the system, especially for those children who cant get the help they need, when they need it...
Firstly, I'm so sorry for what you and your family are going through
I work in child and adolescent mental health and I have to say I agree with much of what you've posted. Mental health care and research are grossly underfunded compared to physical health and it always seems to be children's services that take the brunt of the cuts. I read an article recently that described children's mental health as "a Cinderella service within a Cinderella service" which I felt was spot on.
Has your son been referred to CAMHS? Of course waiting times vary geographically but my team, for example, sees urgent cases within 2 weeks and "routine" cases currently have about a 12 week wait. While I appreciate that 12 weeks may seem like a lifetime when you are struggling to manage the emotions of a child who has been through such a terrible ordeal, if you contact CAMHS directly they may be able to give you some advice or strategies to help your son manage his anxiety on the interim. I'm surprised that your GP told you the help available isn't effective as this seems rather a sweeping generalisation. There are some highly effective, safe, evidence based therapies and medications for the treatment of anxiety in children and teenagers. Trauma-based CBT and EMDR can also be highly effective for children and young people who have experienced sexual abuse, depending on your sons symptoms. It may also be worth contacting your local rape and sexual abuse crisis centre. Most will offer some form of one to one support to children and young people and, while again this varies, our local one allows you to access this pre-trial.
There is a book for parents called "helping your child recover from sexual abuse" by Caren Adams that I know many families find helpful.
What happened to your son is cruel and beyond unfair but it sounds as though you have really pulled together as a family and having such an understanding, compassionate Mother will be invaluable in seeing him through this very difficult time.
Work in the sector and unfortunately resources are so scant that your son wouldn't even meet the criteria. There is no money put forward for commissioning these services and it's not attractive for charity fundraisers. It's terrible but really this is an area where there is little choice but to go private and find your own therapist.
I forgot to say Barnado's do a lot of work with children who have been victims of sexual abuse or exploitation and I've had some very positive feedback about them from families I've worked with.
Also (forgive me if I'm telling you something you already know) if you do make the decision to go private instead of waiting for CAMHS then please make sure the therapist you choose is accredited by the BACP or similar as, without wishing to be alarmist, there are a lot of charlatans out there. There is a 'find a therapist tool' on the BACP website that might be helpful.
I'm so sorry
I used to see a school councillor after physical and emotional abuse. If your ds is still at school with these facilities available it may be worth a try whilst everything is being processed.
sadly mental health is the poor relation of physical health in the NHS and children's mental health services are even lower down the rung
Have you tried the NSPCC or Childline? Our Rape Crisis Center used to support young people
Banardos also have projects
I'm sorry for what you are all going through x
Thanks everyone. I didn't mean to be rude about CAMHS - sorry if it came across that way - I think GP's comment was actually more about the waiting time and impact that would have vs treating sooner - TBH my son isn't "that bad" compared to some - he's not suicidal for example so we don't qualify as urgent here - I'm just desperate to make sure he doesn't keep getting worse as I know anxiety can snowball.... The therapist we've found is an Hon. Fellow of BCAP as well as a member and has been recommended, so fingers crossed.
There arent any Barnardos projects locally. I didn't think of Rape Crisis (suppose I thought of that as adult women) - will investigate.
Can any of you explain though, why it all has to be so secret? Awareness and empathy lead to resources. Fundraising tends to come from sympathy, fear, thankfulness, the "there but for the grace of God" feeling, knowing someone who has been through it - which all need the issue to be personalised....
I know there's always an issue with identifying children with any form of either MH problem or abuse because of their inability to consent - but why is it considered OK to use photos and videos of physically ill children who are clearly too young for informed consent...? Any ideas?
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