We heard the frustrations of a committed and compassionate GP in Tunbridge Wells desperate to find help for the families in her care.
Fortunately, thanks to new funding partnerships we were able to give her a sense of hope for the future.
Here’s what Dr Ray had to say about the current mental health crisis;
“The pandemic has had a profound effect on the mental health of the population and has disproportionately affected children and teenagers in a way I have never seen before. I am referring young people to Children and Adolescents Mental Health Services (CAHMS) where there are concerns around severe anxiety, self-harm and suicide risk. I know the NHS is completely overwhelmed but their advice to refer them to websites feels inadequate to me as families are desperate for face to face help for their children.
Such is the demand, that even private child psychiatrists locally have closed their books to new referrals. I have also spoken to teachers who are trying to support these children and feel completely out of their depth dealing with the tsunami of severe mental health issues they are seeing.
Where does this leave us in primary care? What can we say to families that are desperate for help rather than a list of online resources? We need urgent funding to provide a safe service, or we will be seeing more tragic loss of life.”
We echo Dr Ray’s frustrations and agree that too many children and young people are not receiving the help they so desperately need.
In addition to centre and schools-based counselling, Fegans has began piloting GP-based counselling services. In October 2019, the Ridge Primary Care network (based in Maidstone, Kent) began working with Fegans to tackle some of these issues.
We now run four counselling clinics in the surgeries providing therapy for children and young people. The GPs in this network use the government‘s Improved Access funding for this to run our clinics after school and on Saturday mornings, perfect timings for busy families.
We counsel at least 12 children and teenagers per week in open-ended therapy to enable full recovery. Over the lockdowns, we offered Zoom video counselling but our waiting list is ever increasing, demonstrating the overwhelming need for our support.
It is so nice to be able to share success stories such as this with concerned GPs and give them much needed solutions and hope for the future.
If you would like more information about Fegans’ counselling projects in GPs’ surgeries, please get in touch with Sarah Wallis: firstname.lastname@example.org