Ipswich family call for more support for young mental health patients after having to get treatment in Nottingham and Chelmsford

Alicia Bradnum who was diagnosed with depession, anxiety and ADHD in January last year, with mum Che

Alicia Bradnum who was diagnosed with depession, anxiety and ADHD in January last year, with mum Cherese.

The family of a teenager who was forced to take urgent mental health care in Nottingham because of a lack of beds, has called for more support over child mental health.

Alicia Bradnum, now 13, became ill in January last year and was offered a bed at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s unit in Lowestoft where she was diagnosed with ADHD, depression and anxiety.

After 91 days of treatment she returned home, where she was stable for a week, before things took a downward turn and she was readmitted to hospital in April.

But with places in Suffolk already full, the only bed they could offer her was one 140 miles away in Nottingham.

“I had the phone call at 4.40pm and had to make a decision by five,” mum Cherese, 34, said. “It was a case where if she didn’t take that bed we didn’t know when she would get one.”

After two months there the youngster was able to take a transfer to Chelmsford where it was easier for her family to travel to from their home in Ipswich, but Cherese was not convinced it was the right environment for Alicia.

“She was very young in a unit with a lot older children with very big issues,” she said. “Her behaviour was becoming more and more volatile and we got to the stage where she would be better of at home and treated in the community.”

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While services in Suffolk were able to assist Alicia with a family support worker and organise home schooling, other areas of support were lacking.

Cherese said: “A lot of the time when you are going through this the emphasis is on the children, as it should be, but when you leave it is just like thinking, what is going on?

“Even things like legal rights as a parent, medical guidance and someone else to talk to – when you speak to parents you realise there are more that go through it.”

But the family is also calling on more support to be available for the children themselves, which will prevent youngsters from ending up in an environment which is not suited to their needs.

Cherese added: “The children don’t really have anywhere to go or people to talk to, They know and talk to each other, and are very supportive of each other which is amazing, but there’s nothing on your doorstep.”

While Cherese is complimentary of the treatment Alicia received in Suffolk and understands it was the number of beds that was the issue, she believes more needs to be done for mental health.

“I just think if you have broken your arm or had a heart attack you wouldn’t be sent some 200 miles away, but that’s how it is with mental health.

“I’ve sobbed all the way home on the train [from visits to Nottingham and Chelmsford] and have been so heartbroken that I don’t know what to do.”

Alicia returned to St Alban’s Catholic High School at Easter, and now takes part in a regular group at Suffolk County Council to discuss treatments, services in the county and areas for improvement.

The Bradnums also organised an entertainment evening at Foxhall Community Centre to raise money for Young Minds – a cause that helps youngsters suffering from mental health issues.

The family were fortunate to have a family friend they could rely on for support and advice, but recognised that other families do not have that support.

“It sometimes feels like you have to be in the worst possible situation before someone will sit up and listen. That’s why people go to A&E because they don’t know what to do – at least they are seeing someone, is what they think.

“It’s a system that needs overhauling because it affects so many people, and I have had people asking me where they could go.”