- By Lucy Adams
- BBC Scotland social affairs correspondent
Kyle Solman’s parents sleep in shifts because they are afraid of what he might do if he is left alone.
His mother Kirsty says the 11-year-old attempted to take his own life four times. Kyle has autism and has struggled with his mental health.
Kirsty says kids like her son get lost in the system and calls for better mental health support.
The Scottish Government says support is being given to more children than ever before, but more work needs to be done.
Kirsty Solman, 40, and her son are talking as the latest wait times for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are due to be released.
The Scottish Government’s target is for 90% of children to be seen within 18 weeks of postponement, a target which is consistently missed.
Last year, the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland called on the government to outline how it will achieve its target of directing 1% of the health budget to CAMHS as part of its post-pandemic NHS recovery plan.
At the time the Scottish Government said it had invested £40m to improve CAMHS and was aiming to clear waiting lists by March 2023.
While Kyle is technically no longer on the wait list, Kirsty feels like he’s been bumped through departments and has yet to get the care he needs.
He said they had been diagnosed with autism at age five but that they received no support.
Two years later he was diagnosed with ADHD. Kirsty says he has been given medication but he has not received counseling or therapy.
Kirsty said her son didn’t get access to a psychiatrist through CAMHS until after the third time he attempted to take his own life, at age 10.
“We’re literally taking turns sleeping at night just to make sure Kyle is safe and healthy,” she said.
“The number of young people with mental difficulties is growing but the services with them are not growing.
“This is becoming very obvious when you look at wait times and how long kids have to wait just to get an appointment with CAMHS.”
Kirsty says the staff at the school and CAMHS have been excellent but there are such huge restrictions on support and staffing levels that Kyle can’t get the individual support he needs.
Kyle says he wants to raise awareness of how difficult and isolating it’s been for him. His mental health deteriorated at the start of the first Covid lockdown.
He was a cyclist who competed in races and also enjoyed mountain biking and trampolining. But now he’s just in his room.
Kyle says he wants to talk because it’s so hard for him and others to get help.
“I want more help. I struggled a lot in school,” she says.
“Because I haven’t had help for so long, I just backed out.
“I want help to be available to other children so they can get help.”
Kirsty has petitioned the Scottish Parliament calling for more resources and support for children struggling with their mental health.
He also wants more specialist training for medical staff and specialist emergency mental health care for children in emergency rooms.
The family doesn’t think these calls will help Kyle, because it’s such a long and slow process.
“But it could potentially help other kids in the future and that’s what we’re aiming for,” says Kirsty.
“The last thing we ever want is for a family to go through what we’ve been through. It’s absolutely soul-destroying.
“Your 10-year-old is lying in a hospital bed hooked up to heart rate monitors because he tried to end his life…
“At 10 this shouldn’t even cross kids’ minds. They shouldn’t feel so low that they think it’s the only way out.”
Rob Holland of the National Autistic Society Scotland says more support is urgently needed, particularly early intervention to prevent children from reaching crisis point.
The Scottish Government says it has invested in CAMHS staff up to a current record of around 1,300 full-time equivalent posts.
Mental Wellbeing Minister Maree Todd said: “I fully appreciate the concerns raised by the Solman family and understand the distress caused to children, young people and their families who are struggling with their mental health and getting the right support at the right time.
“Our NHS is providing more diverse support and services to more children than ever before and every health board has arrangements in place to ensure that anyone who comes to the emergency room in the event of a mental health crisis is adequately assessed and treated, at any time.” time of day.
“However, more work needs to be done.”
The BBC has a duty to look after anyone who talks to us about their life, especially a child. Kyle’s age and the harrowing nature of his experience made it a very difficult decision to identify him.
In this case we chose to give him the opportunity to raise awareness of his campaign for more support for young people struggling with their mental health because he feels he has hit a wall and says he doesn’t want anyone else to feel as isolated as did.
If you have been struck by any of the issues raised in this story, you can visit BBC action line.
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