Concerns over long waits for diagnosis and a lack of support have been raised at a meeting discussing children and adolescent mental health services in Thanet.
Parents, carers and youngsters had their say on Friday night at a gathering in Ramsgate with calls made for a specialist mental health summit involving schools, youth workers, Sure Start, young people and the NHS.
The meeting at the Comfort Inn was organised by Councillor Karen Constantine.
It followed a previous gathering in July held in response to the recent tragic suicides of Thanet residents, including Ben Stone and brother Lee Thrumble, Marc Wood and Paul Connell, who families say were failed by mental health services
Cllr Constantine admitted Friday’s meeting was difficult but very positive, with “extremely concerned and frustrated” parents, carers and young people raising issues about what needs fixing.
“Most parents expressed deeply held concerns and an understanding that they are on a really long journey,” she said.
“Many expressed good and bad experiences in obtaining support. But even when the service is more positive there are many more issues to be dealt with.”
Cllr Constantine said there was a call for all provisions to be genuinely inclusive and for mental health to be on the curriculum at school, along with earlier intervention to prevent conditions and situations worsening.
“There is no doubt at all that urgent action is needed, to stop more suffering, to support parents, carers and children and adolescents,” she added.
A number of concerns were raised, including:
- The long waits for neurodiversity diagnoses, such as ADHD, of up to two years and a further two years for an additional diagnostic.
- The three-week wait for prescriptions which are then sometimes incorrect.
- The difference between the ‘shared care’ system, operational in west Kent but not in east Kent, which would help to ensure greater continuity of care.
- The lack of advocacy support and a process or service for children and their parents.
- The need for a further support group.
Cllr Constantine said: “At the meeting there were calls for a child and adolescent mental health summit. This was an idea backed by everyone.
“It follows the previous mental health summit, which was very successful.
“A CAMHs summit would need to involve schools, youth workers, Sure Start, young people themselves along with the NHS.
“It would be a good way of bringing together many different groups and building a greater sense of community. I am hoping we can persuade the NHS to do this.”
Some 45 people attended the meeting.