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Social worker visit..some advice please?(11 Posts)
Hi, First time poster here needing some advice and opinion, please.
My youngest son (aged 14, I'll refer to him as M) has been self harming for a few months on an irregular basis. This has taken the form of superficial scratches on his left hand and forearm. He has spoken openly about this at school to his friends and also mentioned to a member of staff that he had thought about drinking bleach, without actually doing it. On the school's advice we visited our GP and a plan was agreed whereby M would see her every couiple of weeks to talk to her about his feelings etc. She also suggested that her start a diary outlining how he felt emotionally. Other members of of our family (myself included) have been of the opinion that this behaviour is "attention seeking"
Some background to this; M has always struggled academically at school, whilst his older brother (L, aged 16) is doing very well and I believe somewhat "overshadows" M. My wife passed away 6 years ago from an alcohol-related illness and I changed my work to allow me to care properly for the boys. I am now in a relationship with a lady who is now my fiance and she lives with us. The boys absolutely adore her.
So, back to the reason behind my post. M's behaviour led to his school advising Childrens Services that he was self-harming. They called me and we had a long chat. I finished that conversation on the understanding that M was to be referred for CAMHS and an appointment would be arranged. In the meantime we agreed that I would more closely monitor him physically and emotionally. However 24 hours later I received a text stating "It is felt that M needs to be seen by a social worker...". and she is visiting us soon.
I've had no experience of this situation and need some advice if anybody can help?
Can I ask to see any files they hold on me or my family?
Can I record the meeting?
Should I just answer her questions in a basic manner and not volunteer too much info?
Am i entitled to see a copy of the assessment made on my family?
Obviously, my main concern is for my son's welfare and I'm pleased that he will be conselled by CAMHS in the near future, but I really don't see the need for a social worker to be involved. Any opinions or advice would be welcome.
Thanks in advance
Look at this as a positive. The social worker isn't going to be there to judge you but to look at your environment, learn more about your child and your background, and hopefully provide you support and guidance while you get help. Try to look at it as a positive. Social Workers are not automatically to be feared, the vast majority just want to do their job and help You navigate a complicated system to get the support you lost need. They can't do that without getting to Know you.
You sound like an amazing Dad. It reads to me like the school, social services and CAHMs are trying to put in some supports to back you up.
From my experience of dealing with services like this it can help for you and your son to have a loose plan in mind that might help your son's situation and allow you to ask for specific follow up services that might help the plan be implemented if they are available. I found, in admittedly completely different circumstances where people were attempting to put support in for my son, they kept meeting 'to assess' him but actually ended up wasting a lot of time. Your son may have very specific issues at play and you, as his very caring father, are likely to have some insight and he has the rest.
Best of luck to you both.
I'm not sure that 'attention seeking' is a terribly useful phrase.
I think we all need to feel that our friends and family are 'attentive' towards us. There is nothing wrong with that.
People who are well and happy do not scratch or cut. It seems a lot better that help is being offered at this point in time.
Also while it's great that you have found a new partner who both your sons 'adore', it is quite possible that - somewhere - your son is also missing his mother.
I do hope that the Social Worker can offer your son support and that a happier future lies ahead.
Think of the social worker as a facilitator to make sure everything is coordinated and in place for your son. They can bring together all the info from CAMHS, GP and school to form a useful coherent plan and work with you through what can often be a difficult to navigate system.
We had SS involvement with our DSCs and the worker was really great at making sure everything we needed for them was in place. It can be so difficult to access the right services with children as they are so stretched and she made sure everything was all set up.
The phrase "attention seeking" is inappropriate here because of its negative connotations. If he is doing this to gain some sort of attention, it will be because he has things that need attending to.
The self-harm thing is a bit of an epidemic in secondary schools - we have had problems with one of my GSs - he did not do so himself but was receiving text pics from friends of their self-inflicted wounds.
I agree that it is good to see the SW as a facilitator and co-ordinator. It sounds as though you are making a good job of being a Dad, and this is just one more challenge of this role.
I know several families who have seen SW's when there has been serious illness in the family or a teen with self-harming/MH issues. It has never been about judging the family (no parenting concerns with any of them); only about the fact that SWs know the local area and know what support is available, so they are very useful as coordinators. Ours were very helpful and I don't think they were in any way concerned about out parenting.
The social worker will just be making sure that there is nothing going on at home that might be negatively impacting on your son, and talking to you about how you support him and what other support he needs.
Why would you want to record it? What do you think that would achieve?
You do have the rights to request files held on you but not on your son.
Mishaps Fri 29-Apr-16 11:32:44
"The phrase "attention seeking" is inappropriate here because of its negative connotations. If he is doing this to gain some sort of attention, it will be because he has things that need attending to. "
This is brilliant. So, so very true.
When he was a baby he cried when he was hungry or cold or in pain. He was seeking attention because he needed you. This is not so different.
It may be difficult to unravel exactly what in his life it is that needs attention or how best to help him- but then that wasn't so different when he was little.
What seems spectacularly unlikely is that he is a healthy, happy teen who is having a whale of a time but just self-harms and talks of suicide because he enjoys it.
Thanks for your advice etc etc. The visit was OK. Her departing words were along the lines of "....you should be proud of your sons/ no cause for concern.." She said she'd need to revisit but I've heard nothing since (she came on 29 April), other than a CAMHS letter (which I was expecting). I'll book the appointment and see how it goes from there.
Thanks for sharing with us Mark and I hope you get some good help from CAMHS.
Sounds like you are doing a terrific job as a Lone Dad.
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