Scots mum’s anguish as young son left waiting three years for mental health support

A Scots mum whose nine-year-old son had to wait three years for specialist mental health support said she was “left to her own devices”.

Samantha Lee Wotherspoon, 32, from Bonhill, had been waiting since before the pandemic to meet with Child and Adult Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for help for her son, Robbie.

She first raised concerns that he needed intervention when he was in the nursery. She believes he is showing signs of autism.

Samantha, who lives on Third Avenue, said she was told to wait until a primary one when he is settled, but she has only just got a referral to the service now that he is in primary five.

The latest CAMHS statistics show that between January and March, a quarter of young people referred in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area were forced to wait between 36 and 52 weeks before treatment commenced, with waiting times at their highest level for over a year .

Samantha said: “When Robbie first went on the waiting list, I was told it was a mile and a half long. I would phone every week, and I was left hanging.

“There’s no phone call for an update, if you don’t phone them, then you don’t hear anything from CAMHS.

“They don’t have the time or facilities to offer us anything, they were chock-a-block. We only have had one phone call since lockdown.

“We have been trying to gauge what works with him on our own.

“What works one day, won’t work the next, so without trying to sound horrible, you are walking on eggshells around him.”

Robbie has only now just been seen by the CAMHS team in the past three weeks after roughly three years of waiting, and Samatha believes that they are still not doing enough to support her family.

She said: ”Now that we have received his first appointment, things are moving quicker. However, it has been the whole waiting process where we have had no advice from CAMHS and were left to our own devices to deal with something we have never dealt with before.

“We need more support from CAMHS for families, they have seen Robbie once when he was an angel, but they’re not seeing what he is like every day, and they have to take my word for it. They aren’t building a relationship with Robbie.”

Robbie attends Balloch Primary School and Samantha claims that the lack of specialist support has affected Robbie’s learning.

She said: ”The school are great and understanding, but if he has a meltdown then I am called down to take him out of school, so he is then missing his education. Robbie is going into primary five and he can’t read.

“This is a wee boy who’s not at the stage of his learning he should be.

“The school hasn’t had the backup that I am getting now, they need that so they can also help.”

A spokesperson from CAMHS said: “We are very sorry to hear that Robbie’s family feel that they did not receive timely support for Robbie from CAMHS in West Dunbartonshire, due to waits for access to the service.

“While we cannot comment on individual patients, we work hard to assess children and follow-up with interventions where required.

“We would be happy to discuss Robbie’s treatment with his family to see how we can provide further support.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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