Help at Hand Service Aids Children Facing Mental Health Challenges

by Ella

The Children’s Commissioner’s Help at Hand service is dedicated to providing support and guidance to children facing mental health difficulties. This valuable service extends its assistance to children in care, those under the care of social services, children living away from home, and care leavers. Many of the children who seek help from the Help at Hand service are grappling with mental health challenges.


Here are two recent cases where Help at Hand has been working diligently to provide support:


Ray’s Story


Ray, a 12-year-old, is currently hospitalized under the Mental Health Act as he awaits placement in a suitable community setting. Ray’s medical team is in agreement that the hospital is not the ideal environment for his well-being, and he would benefit significantly from a therapeutic community placement.


Ray has spent over a year in a psychiatric intensive care unit, despite the intended short-term use of such units. His confinement in this setting has likely contributed to behavioral difficulties, often resulting in his isolation in a bare room.

Initially, children’s services believed hospitalization was the best option for Ray. However, they are now actively seeking a community placement for him. Help at Hand has been working diligently to emphasize the importance of finding a suitable place for Ray, and the Children’s Commissioner has addressed Ray’s situation by writing to both NHS England and the Local Authority.

Leah’s Journey

Leah, a 16-year-old, is also hospitalized under the Mental Health Act. She has been working with an Independent Mental Health Advocate who reached out to Help at Hand because children’s services were reluctant to explore community placement options for her, similar to Ray’s situation.

Leah, her consultant psychiatrist, and her family all shared the desire for her to transition to a community setting. Help at Hand advocated on Leah’s behalf, prompting the Local Authority to initiate a search for an appropriate community placement. However, concerns have arisen due to a shortage of available places willing to care for children with complex needs, potentially leading to a prolonged search process.


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