The parent, who does not want to be named, was hopeful that treatment for his son’s mental health problems was on the way when the family GP offered to refer the child to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services).
But he was stunned to receive a letter telling him that his plea had been rejected outright and CAMHS would not see the boy – leaving him with no idea what the next step should be.
The father’s plea was made a year after mental health charities began campaigning on behalf of almost one-fifth of referrals to CAMHS who are refused without being seen.
The father said: “You don’t go to a GP about a 10-year-old unless the situation is serious. When the GP said he’d refer him to CAMHS, we thought we’d get a solution but we were refused with no explanation. It was just wholly inadequate.
“The letter was unbelievable – there was no explanation, nothing to say where we should go from here. We feel like we’ve been abandoned by the NHS.
“We don’t know what’s wrong with our son because no-one has seen him. We just know he needs help.”
The family is now considering going to a private psychologist, which will cost £95 a session and will need several sessions, and they are talking to the child’s school about what help he can get there.
But they are far from the only ones facing this problem.
As a highly specialist service, CAMHS deals with complex mental health issues and has been under pressure, with a lack of staff leading to long waiting lists in the past.
While they understand that CAMHS can’t see everyone, charities such as Barnardo’s and SAMH say that improving other mental health services would relieve some of the pressure the struggling service is under.
Forth Valley NHS says that in many cases, the local CAMHS service is able to signpost referrals to other local services and support, where these exist.