"Horrible experience"

First, I waited at least a year for my referral to George Turle House. When my parents first approached the gp for a camhs referral, I was suffering from mental illness (undiagnosed at the time as nobody from the mental health services wanted to see me) but I was still able to somewhat function in everyday life.

By the time I was finally given an appointment at George Turle House, at least a year over my referral from the gp, I had given up on life and was feeling very suicidal. I was struggling with my sleep as my suicidal thoughts kept me up and I had also began to abuse alcohol. I had already been self harming on a daily basis for at least the past 4 years. When I got a letter in the post from George Turle House I finally felt like there might be a chance for somebody to bring hope into my life.

I attended the appointment, feeling the most suicical I had ever been, and told the camhs team what my problems were. Unfortunately, at the end of the appointment I was told that I did not qualify for any help and that camhs could not offer me any support. Effectively, I was all alone. I went back to my gp begging for help and they told me that nothing more could be done - camhs did not think I needed support for my mental health.

Less than a month later I attempted suicide and ended up being sectioned and sent to an adolescents psychiatric hospital and then to an adolescents intensive care psychiatric hospital. I was detained under the mental health act and within 4 months of staying in hospital, I was diagnosed with several serious mental disorders and a developmental disorder. I spent a very long time in hospital trying to take back control of my life but I still feel the greatest sense of anger when I think of how George Turle House neglected me, and probably hundreds of other teenagers. My suicide attempt left me in a coma on the verge of death and if I had died, I would honestly believe that my death was on George Turle House's hands as I told a month before that I needed help and even told them that I was suicidal. What kind of a mental health service tells patients who are considering ending their lives that they do not 'qualify' for help? Who decides what qualifies and what doesn't?

This service must be improved. When I went into hospital, there was not a single young person there who felt like camhs in Kent had helped them. Many, just like me, were abandoned by the mental health services when we should have been receiving help and then when it comes to a crisis point, we are shipped off to psychiatric hospitals. Some are not that lucky and take their lives.

I know all about the camhs funding crisis and I do suspect my treatment had a lot to do with lack of money for the services to be effective.

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

I was sad to read your account of your dealings with our service at Georges Turle House and would like to apologise for your experience of what has taken place. I am grateful you have shared your feelings so that we may be able to address the situation both for you or others using the service. I would like the opportunity to speak to you to discuss this matter further so we can learn from your experience and make changes that would benefit you and others using the service.

My name is Paul Haith, General Manager and I have responsibility for the service at Georges Turle House and I can be contacted on: 01227 597055. Please do contact me and I would be happy to meet you in person or discuss by telephone whichever suits you best.