Parents “angry and frustrated” at care in mental health hospitals – New survey

Parents “angry and frustrated” at care in mental health hospitals – New survey

More than half of parents with children in mental health hospitals do not feel their child’s mental health has improved while in care, according to a new survey by YoungMinds and the National Autistic Society.

More than half of parents with children in mental health hospitals do not feel their child’s mental health has improved while in care, according to a new survey by YoungMinds and the National Autistic Society.

The findings, based on responses from 448 parents whose children have been in mental health hospitals over the last five years, show that:

  • Only 43% of parents feel that their child’s mental health has improved while in hospital, while 54% say that they have seen no improvement. A quarter (24%) think that their child’s mental health has deteriorated a lot.
  • 44% of parents have felt unable to challenge decisions about their child’s treatment, while 52% do not know what rights their child has or they have while their child is in hospital.
  • 44% couldn’t visit their child as often as they would have liked to because of the distance or travel time.
  • A third (33%) say that they were not consulted about decisions about medication, and 40% have been uncomfortable with decisions made about medication.

YoungMinds and the National Autistic Society are today launching the Always campaign and accompanying petition, which calls for the Government to enhance and enforce the rights of children in mental health hospitals. The campaign is based around the Always Charter [attached], which sets out 12 rights that young people in inpatient units and their families should always have.

Sarah Brennan, Chief Executive of YoungMinds, said:

“It is deeply alarming that so many parents feel angry and frustrated with the treatment their children are receiving in hospital. In the worst cases, young people can be trapped in inappropriate care for years, with their mental health deteriorating, while their parents desperately try to find a way to get them home.

“That’s why it’s crucial that young people and their families have clear and enforceable rights that put that young person’s needs at the centre of their care and treatment.”

Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, said:

“Families should be fully involved in decisions about the care of their loved ones. Yet our joint survey with YoungMinds suggests that many parents of children and young people in mental health inpatient units feel powerless.

"This is putting an unfair strain on families who are often already under almost unimaginable pressure.

"The Government must address this unacceptable situation by strengthening the rights and voices of children and their parents. Care and support should always be built around each child, including those on the autism spectrum, and be as close to home as possible."

Other results of the survey include:

  • Fewer than a third (29%) have felt sufficiently involved in their child’s care.
  • 53% were not confident that their child was receiving appropriate care.

More than a third (39%) say their child has not been supported to have a suitable education.

For more information about the Always campaign and charter, and to sign the petition, visit
https://act.youngminds.org.uk/always

The experience of four anonymous parents:

  • “My child has had a number of admissions to different units. The communication and support from these services has been very poor. I have felt guilty, judged, not listened to and belittled.”
  • “I did challenge some decisions but feel my views were still dismissed and I gave up. The majority of the experience in inpatient was a 'done to' rather than ‘with’ approach.”
  • “We were always asked – ‘Here's what we recommend. Do you agree?’ - as though it was our choice. But when we didn't agree, we were seen as obstructive. They said we had choice, but we didn't.”
  • “We needed a key contact that all questions about our daughter could be voiced through. Although she had a key worker, she was rarely at the unit or contactable.”
Visit our media centre
Back To Top