Provide young trauma survivors with adequate care

Provide young trauma survivors with adequate care

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Aged 17, terrified, I sat in front of two CAMHS practitioners for my initial assessment. I had been referred by my sixth form’s counselling service, presenting with severe (C)PTSD and a dissociative disorder.

New research from Kings College London suggests 1/13 young people in the UK experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) before their 18th birthday, making it significantly more common in children and young people than eating disorders. Yet, while 100% of CAMHS websites offer eating disorder services, only about 17.6% offer trauma and PTSD services.* This illustrates something I already knew; that healthcare services are failing young trauma survivors profoundly.

That day, the CAMHS practitioners told me to describe my trauma in detail, refusing to read the note I'd written for them that explained how damaging this exact request would be. They said that if I did not do as they asked they couldn't help me. I tried to force myself to obey, desperate for help. The strain and distress this caused was so extreme that my body broke down and I was too weak to stand for days, as well as highly dissociated. I missed a week of classes, and was prescribed muscle relaxants as the muscles in my neck contorted my face. I could barely see.

Trauma is a major risk factor for developing almost every psychological disorder, and many survivors (including myself) end up in crisis, on psychiatric wards, or worse, because nobody was there to help them. Please stand up for children and young people who have already been through hell, and who deserve understanding, treatment and competent care. Join me in fighting for (1) basic trauma-informed training for all CAMHS staff, and (2) a plan set in motion to improve trauma services for children and young people. 

Thank you.
Nadia Henning (The Young Survivors)

*Based on the current services I could find on CAMHS websites for 5 of the largest UK cities (London, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Glasgow)

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