Young with mental health issues are ‘let down’ by States service

A UNIVERSITY student is calling for a user-led review of the island’s young people’s mental health service, after saying she felt let down by the service.

Jaime Sarre, 19, was referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service when she was 15 for treatment and support for suicidal ideation.

She said she was referred several times by her school before finally getting an appointment, but then found the experience difficult.

‘In the initial meetings it was so impersonal the way they were talking and just felt standardised and by the book,’ she said.

‘My mental health got worse and it was only when I got admitted to hospital that they started to listen. I had to get to breaking point.’

After Miss Sarre tried to take her own life, Camhs instated a safety plan, a tool for helping someone to keep themselves safe and navigate suicidal feelings and urges. She told staff that she did not feel she was able to follow the plan, but she said she was told that if she was unable to do so, she would no longer receive help.

In a meeting with one of the therapists about medication, she said the staff member she was speaking to had made a joke about not taking all of the prescription pills at once.

After what she said were a number of issues, she walked away from the service and waited until she was 18 to seek support again, which she received briefly from mental health charity Guernsey Mind.

‘In the two sessions I had there they did more for me than the 20 sessions I had with Camhs,’ she said.

In a social media poll, Miss Sarre has invited islanders to share whether they or their child had an adequate experience with the child mental health service.

Yesterday, the poll had received more than 200 responses, with more than three-quarters responding to say they were not happy with the support offered to them or their child.

‘Looking at the responses it’s actually quite sad to see,’ said Miss Sarre.

‘There are people saying they have been a no show to one appointment, which is understandable if you’re suffering with your mental health, and then they have been dismissed. I know from my own experiences that happens.’

She has also posted a survey online as part of a pilot study she is completing for her course in education in special needs and disabilities.

‘I wanted to chat to service users themselves. I plan to go to deputies once I’ve got the results and involve Health & Social Care as well and maybe set up a feedback service.’

Mental health services in the island were reviewed in 2018, with a summary of the report being published last year.

‘If you have a professional doing the review you’re obviously going to have a heavy bias on the medical side of things.

‘If all we are doing is providing a service that isn’t supporting the people it needs to, then there’s no reason to keep having it at all,’ said Miss Sarre.

n Health & Social Care was contacted for comment in response to the online poll. Guernsey Mind did not wish to comment.

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