13-year-old Polly* is the daughter of a mother who has had problems with substance misuse in the past. Polly has witnessed domestic violence and has experienced trauma through what she has observed in relation to her parents’ substance misuse and mental health issues.
At the age of 11 Polly stopped eating and lost a significant amount of weight. Her physical health was compromised and she was admitted to her local paediatric ward to be re-fed using a nasal-gastric tube. This was a very distressing time for Polly and her family.
After regaining some weight, Polly was allowed home. At this time, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) attempted to engage with her. This was very difficult as Polly found it hard to trust adults. She spent the first few sessions refusing to engage in any way.
Polly loves crafts and was eventually persuaded do some colouring and slime-making. Following this she agreed to some self-care activities such as using hand cream and nail varnish. After a few months of doing these activities, Polly was able to play some board games and then agreed to play the CBT game. The game helped Polly to identify her thoughts and feelings. It gave her the space to develop her cognitive skills and emotional vocabulary to manage her overwhelming feelings of anxiety.
Polly is now in year 8. She is doing very well academically and hopes to become a doctor in the future. Polly’s weight is within a healthy range and she has developed healthy ways to manage difficult emotions which do not include self-harm and starvation.
Since 2014 MedEquip4Kids has funded resources including games, toys, books, and communication aids for CAMHS across the UK.
At least one in ten children and young people has a diagnosable mental health condition. Having these resources available can really enable CAMHS to support and care for young patients, helping them to express and understand their feelings, as well as learning more about their condition and ways to cope.
If you’d like to support our CAMHS project and help give children better mental health, you can donate here. Or for more information, please call us on 0161 798 1600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
*Polly’s name was changed to protect her identity.