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To contact social services?

122 replies

KizzyKat91 · 25/07/2017 19:21

I can't go into much detail with this one as could be outing, but I'm incredibly concerned about the mental and emotional wellbeing of the children involved and just can't get them off my mind.

I've known the mum for years and she's always struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts. She's had numerous courses of counselling and has been on antidepressants for years/regularly sees the GP etc

She's going through a bad patch again and has admitted she's had very specific suicidal thoughts and has been making plans. She saw the GP the other day and has had her medication increased.

When telling me all of this (in person and on the phone), her children have been present. She's very open about her suicidal thoughts and openly discusses it in front of them. She also talks about her financial problems and the huge amount of debt she is in.

I have gently suggested that maybe she shouldn't tell them these things as it might worry them/upset them (especially the specifics of how she's thought about committing suicide).

Her response was that mental health issues shouldn't be hidden, she has nothing to be ashamed of and that they need to know why she isn't like other mums and sometimes cant get out of bed etc.

But it must be causing them a huge amount of anxiety?? Both seem very immature for their ages, very clingy and the youngest can be very quiet. The oldest also regularly throws temper tantrums and shows a lot of resentment towards the mum, but then gets very upset and guilty and clingy afterwards. Oldest also seems to struggle to make friends with children her age and spends a lot of time with the younger sibling.

I asked the youngest whether he had any plans for the summer holidays and he said he'd probably be at home a lot as mum would be in bed :(

FWIW the children are well fed, well dressed and incredibly loved. They do a lot of out of school activities during term time and want for nothing. The father is around but he works odd shifts and does a lot of overtime.

So they're not being neglected and they're not in any physical danger, but it must be very upsetting and stressful for them. WIBU to contact social services? The whole family needs more support and surely the children could do with some counselling themselves? would social services be able to help with this?

OP posts:

jobergamot · 25/07/2017 19:51

Mind your own business. Kids are loved, well cared for. Not at risk of significant harm.

If you want to help, try offering a listening ear, being a yoga buddy, a babysitter.


Squirmy65ghyg · 25/07/2017 19:59

That would be incredibly upsetting for a child to hear. I would call them for advice, they will either be interested or not, I have no idea. You sound like a good friend.


PopcornBits · 25/07/2017 20:00

What? Contact social services because she has a mental health problem that she's already being treated for?
She isn't neglecting her children, she isn't starving them, she isn't abusing them.
She's being open about her mental health.
Maybe you should offer to take her kids out instead of berating her for talking openly and honestly.


NotAnotherNoughtiesTune · 25/07/2017 20:01

Hearing someone's suicide plans is distressing enough as an adult let alone a child.

How about suggesting if you are able and willing, some trips with the kids?

I'm torn on whether SS should be involved or not.

How does her husband feel about her discussing suicide around the children?


TheQueenSnortsAvocados · 25/07/2017 20:05

You might suggest a specialist youth group for the children. Possibly a young carers project, as they will very likely be taking on some caring responsibilities, although some areas have provision for children of parents with mental health problems. PM me if you like, and I can help you look in your area.


mogulfield · 25/07/2017 20:06

I grew up in a house with a suicidal depressed Mum who spent all day in bed, I wish someone had called social services. No one knew and we didn't get any help.
This has resulted in me with anxiety disorder (thankfully mostly over now), my brother with depression and a drug problem, and my sister with depression and social anxiety disorder.
Young minds will be absorbing everything she is saying. I had my first panic attack at 9.


jacketej · 25/07/2017 20:07

It's not neglect that we would all think of and what would spring to mind however it is emotional neglect. The impact emotionally on those children hearing their mum having suicidal thoughts, what would then go through their heads? Are they not enough.. does mummy not love them enough? Is it something they've done. That's emotional neglect. It can and will have such a huge impact on their lives, i would contact SS, they might already be on their radar. But if not, the more agencies helping her the better as far as I'm concerned


user1495025590 · 25/07/2017 20:10

YANBU It is extremely damaging for the children to hear their own mother talk about her plans to commit suicide.It is emotional abuse and their behaviour reflects this! I would certainly call NSPCC for advice if you don't want to call SS.


fedupski · 25/07/2017 20:11

Have any of you who are saying to mind your own business had parents threaten to kill themselves?
The children need support and counselling as soon as possible.
Your friends GP should have suggested this to her, as the poor kids are probably terrified they are going to lose their mum if the medication doesn't work.
I've been in your friends place, and her children's and have sympathy for all, but it is never appropriate to share with your young children or teenagers that you are making plans to end your life.


LivininaBox · 25/07/2017 20:12

This is not "being open about MH problems", it is emotional abuse. Why not speak to the NSPCC? They should be well placed to judge if SS involvement is needed.


MrsMoastyToasty · 25/07/2017 20:12

There is a close link between debt and mental health. Have you ever thought of taking her to get help with her debts and maximising her income?


Theresnonamesleft · 25/07/2017 20:13

I am coming to this from your friends side. Just without including the dc's in everything. I am at times a danger to myself. I self harm and occasionally I have darker thoughts. However, I protect my children as much as possible from this. They know I have mh but they are not aware of my thoughts and what I do to my body. My sleeping patterns is just how I am and easily explained, same with erratic eating people have different appetites.

Yes I have been referred because of the above. Ss came away satisfied after talking to myself, medical team, schools and the children the impact is minimal. However they did offer support on a lower level and they arrange activities for the dc's and practical support when I need it such as dealing with various debt companies, being there at appointments and a bit of housework when I have been low.

Referral to ss isn't about the physical abuse but also the emotional implications. Sorry but she is failing them emotionally. They may be well fed etc but all their needs are not being catered for. Suggesting you talk to her isn't taking into the consideration the impact this will have on the children. The children will still be there listening. And really as a young child who wants to listen to their parent saying they want to kill themselves.

By having this support she may well have the confidence knowing the children are cared for to go into hospital to get help.

Gp's as good as they are don't fully know about various meds. There are some that are also only available via a psychiatrist. Mine just kept upping the dose not wanting to change meds. I ended up under psych care when I got so bad I wasn't sleeping and was hallucinating. If she's been under the crisis team she should e able to self refer back, if not try to convince her to get the gp to refer her.. and yes please do report. They need to support to break the cycle of them also having mh issues.


inlawsareasses · 25/07/2017 20:14

I always wonder if the people who say mind your own business are the same ones that are up in arms when something terrible happens.

The emotional effects on the children will be massive. It may not be a social care issue initially but input from early help may be needed.

Let the professionals decide whether threshold for intervention is met.


KizzyKat91 · 25/07/2017 20:14

Can't believe some of the flip responses here. How am I "berating" her? Or preventing her from talking openly? I've been her friend for 20+ years and have always been her confidant. I regularly babysit and have offered to take the kids on a day out tomorrow as a result of what the youngest said. She has been depressed on and off for the 20+ years I've known her and it's not something that I think will ever be "cured" just managed.

I'm just concerned about the emotional distress she is causing her children. I don't think it's right that she is talking about throwing herself in front of a train when she has an 8 year old clinging to her leg and a 13 year old skulking in the background.

I don't want to punish her or have her children taken away - I want to get her and the children more support and help!

OP posts:

jobergamot · 25/07/2017 20:16

YABU by the way.

Seriously, a SS assessment is likely to add stigma, oppression, stress, anxiety and fear to an already stressful situation for this poor woman. Have a quiet word with her partner if you think it will help. Social workers would be complete overkill.


Theresnonamesleft · 25/07/2017 20:21

So if op ignores this how are the children going to get the help and support they need?
Even if op is qualified to do this, she couldn't help them because she is too close to them.
They need someone to talk to about this, to help them process what she's saying. To help them understand it really, really isn't their fault. They will blame themselves and IF she does something they will continue to blame themselves because they couldn't help mum. That if they had done this better, or that then she wouldn't be like this.


justkeepswimmingg · 25/07/2017 20:22

I don't think it's unreasonable for social services to be involved when it comes to mental health. I'm currently pregnant (also have a toddler), and when I first saw my midwife she was going through a questionnaire with me. One question was do you have any history of mental illness. I had some anxiety after the birth of my toddler, and had CBT, so I said yes. She said she had to write this down in the social services section, and they could contact social services if they felt baby was ever in danger due to a flare up of anxiety. At the time I felt it was a little excessive, as my anxiety was never surrounding my baby and never affected him (was also mild). But now I understand that it's standard practice, and is a great idea especially for mothers with serious mental health concerns. Also social services offer support to struggling families (of which is sounds like they are), they do not want to rip families apart for no reason.


CauliflowerSqueeze · 25/07/2017 20:24

She can be as open about her MH as she wants towards adults. Inappropriate to tell your children how you're planning to Jill yourself. Ffs.


AndNowItIsSeven · 25/07/2017 20:27

No her GP knows the situation you will make things much worse. Her mental health will suffer and impact the dd as a result.


user1495025590 · 25/07/2017 20:31

Her GP knows she is saying this in front of her DC? How would he know that?


NicolasFlamel · 25/07/2017 20:31

There's being open and MH and then there's this. I was exposed to less serious mental health issues as a child and it still had a huge impact. As an adult I adore my mother and understand much more than I did but as a child it's terrifying.
The people telling you to mind your business are the same who slate social services when abused and neglected children don't get the help they need.
I don't doubt she loves her children very much but someone else needs to be looking out for their emotional wellbeing since she clearly can't at the moment.


manglethedangle · 25/07/2017 20:32

Yup, I'd call them. It's emotional harm. (*waving social worker hat)


CauliflowerSqueeze · 25/07/2017 20:32

  • Kill not Jill

JamRock · 25/07/2017 20:33

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JaneEyre70 · 25/07/2017 20:33

What she's doing is emotional abuse. What a horrific thing to talk about in front of her children. They must be very anxious and overwhelmed by it all. My mum had a nervous breakdown, and it was hell to live with as a young teenager. She's inflicting her misery onto her kids, and that isn't right. I'd phone SS for some advice. You're a good friend.

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