Caring for child with mental health problems

I care for a 13 year old daughter who has depression and self harms. When she was 12 she took an overdose and she cuts herself every now and again. She has mood swings and can go from being fine one minute to hurling abuse at me the next. For a long time she wouldn’t talk to anyone including the mental health team but she has been referred a second time and has agreed to let them help. She got given cigarettes by another child and now addicted. This breaks my heart. Every day is like walking on egg shells as I wonder what she will be like or if it will be a self harming day or worse. I have no one to talk to and I keep asking myself if it is my fault. She has never been able to explain what triggers the depression but when it is full on I can’t get near her and she can say some really hurtful things. She seems to know just what to do to get at me in a spiteful way. When she is not in a low mood she is lovely but I am so worried especially when I think she might hurt herself. I was trying to get help from the adult mental health team as I have been very depressed now myself but just got put on a waiting list and even when she had taken the overdose they were very uncaring and said it made no difference to my getting help. I can’t even watch TV for long as she won’t catch it with me and I feel I have to keep an eye on her to check she is ok.

As i have found like you NHS mental health services are not very good, very difficult to access help and support.

But you both clearly need emotional support/counselling.

Are there any charity’s that can help in your area who offer counselling?

A lot are funded from the National Lottery.

Has she tried ChildLine, they can help with emotional issues?

Is the GP any help, the GP should be on your side helping you access services?

Thanks for replying ! The GP here is really hard to get to see and when you do, there is one who you often get who has no empathy whatsoever. I was referred by a kindly nurse practitioner to adult mental health last year but after an initial appt they put me on a waiting list and even when I was desperate after my daughter’s overdose they were very cold and just said it didn’t make any difference to when I would be helped. I took myself off their waiting list and they immediately wrote to my GP and said how concerned they were about me. Hypocrites. They have this shiny looking package called steps to well being but all that happens is you get seen once then parked. A box ticking exercise to make the figures look better. I posted my experience on their facebook page.

I tried looking for support for parent carers online but it juts gave me web sites where the focus is on support for the child.

The school are very kind but can’t do much for me. It was thanks to them that we got the second chance with CAMHS, bypassing the GP.

There were carers goups happening round here (I was caring for my mum until March when she sadly died) but everything just stopped with covid though I see on the govt guidelines that support groups can meet with social distancing. I feel very isolated and also that other parents with non mental health problem children will judge me as a bad mother. I think my daughter has been unwell for quite a time as there were episodes at primary school age including one when she threw stones at me walking home from school.

My husband can’t cope and he deals with it by ignoring me when I am upset or says things like “she’s doing it to get at you”. There is also his mother about 2 hours drive away buty we haven’t told her much as she is very judgemental and would not understand. I have 3 cousins but they all live a long way away and n elderly aunt and uncle who I can’t see as they are isolating about an hour away but in a seaside town which has been bombarded with holiday at homers and day trippers making their life a misery.

I am scared for both my children. I have a 16 year old son who is very low about his exams and his future due to covid. They were both in army cadets and loved it but this has stopped. I feel like there is nothing I can do and I wish I could take a break. The mental illness is taking my daughter from me and on a bad day she is so bitter and nasty.

Thank you for listening. x

Hello Pauline, welcome to the forum

That all sounds very stressful and upsetting for you, sorry to hear you’re not getting the support you need. Have you looked at Mind? they have a resource and information page which might be helpful -

If you felt like an informal online chat with other carers we run weekly meetings giving carers a chance to take a small break and connect with each other, there’s no pressure to share anything you’re uncomfortable with. You can join up here -

Best wishes


Hello Pauline
I’ve not been on the site for ages as I’m having very similar issues to you with my own daughter and my own mental health took a nose dive.

I look after my husband and son too and it’s hard enough but my daughter sadly has suffered too. She self harmed during the first lockdown and problems with food came to a head so after a referral she is getting some help with an eating disorder.

She seemed to be improving a little but her anger mainly directed towards me got worse with her verbal abuse becoming intolerable and sometimes it became physical - pushing and hitting me.

Then three weeks ago she took 15 paracetamol and was in hospital overnight on a drip for paracetamol poisoning. I can’t put into words how awful it is when your child attempts to kill themselves. She assures me she won’t attempt it again but on advice from the hospital I’ve since locked up all medication. I have really tried to connect with her more but it’s so hard and she has become verbally aggressive again.

So with looking after my husband and son and now my daughter I have found all my usual coping reserves disappearing. I am on 20mg of Citalopram and had a one to one phone appointment about the suicide attempt and eating disorder with my daughters CAMHS main contact. That’s it.

Your post was very timely and as our daughters sound very similar I hope we can be of support to one another. All the best.:hugs:

Sounds like my daughter too! although she is in her 30’s she is much younger mentally. She has learning difficulties and is on the autistic spectrum. She has never been diagnosed with a mental health disorder but she was getting very low a while back and the GP prescribed Citalopram but she has refused to even take a single one.

Everything in life is MY fault, I get called horrible names, get ignored etc but to me that’s part of life now. She flew off the handle today and stomped off because she got in a mix with her contraceptive pills so I had to speak to the LD nurse at the surgery because no way could she or I cope with a pregnancy!! She is insisting she has had a period and told the nurse that too but evidence in the bathroom bin and wash basket suggest otherwise! :frowning:

As your daughter is so young i think it is vital that you get help now so start shouting out! You need help now not when years have passed and things get even worse. I would start with the GP again and tell them you just can’t cope and you have genuine concerns that she may seriously harm herself.

I have read many stories of situations like this and also girls who have died of anorexia because various agencies didn’t take notice at the time and many of the parents say they couldn’t get anybody to listen and they wish they had kicked up more fuss! So you must make sure you do and start with the GP and don’t leave until he has assured you that he will get the mental health team to deal with this urgently.

Thanks for your reply ! We have support inplace for my daughter and the school are very good but as per usual it is the parent taking the strain. It is pointless going back to the GP about me as I have already been referrred, assessed and put on a long waiting list and even my daughters attempt on her life did not move me up it one single place.

I expect if I lived on a more urban area there would be more resources but things are very spread out her and funding for everything in short supply.

Anyway, thanks for your response ! :slight_smile:

My son has learning difficulties, now aged 41, but I can identify with many of the problems you are having.
For eight years I too was labelled a “bad mother” because of my son’s behaviour.
I used to run a Brownie pack of 24 girls single handed, and my eldest son was perfectly behaved and exceeded all his developmental milestones, yet still I was a “bad mother”?
Only when he went to visit a school outside the state system did we start to get any real inclination about brain damage at birth!!
Battling the system is so hard, and I’m so weary of it after all this time, but what else can you do?
I wish I could suggest something, whilst we keep hearing more about the government giving extra funding for mental health, it still seems that young people are being let down by CAMHS, wherever you are.

It is just good to know other people are out there who understand. I can handle everything but the lonliness and the abuse I get from my daughter. She ran away to a mates house for two nights this week claiming I was always tellig her to leave and then refused tocome back unless I bought her cigarettes (I didin.t !) When I look at all the other girls in her year that we have known since toddlerhood and they all seem to be doing well and their families are all regular families I feel so sad. It has taken its toll on my family and my husband can,t cope at all. He leaves me to handle it. Her older brother is worried for her and he is affected by the covid as he is about to take his exams. I wish there was a support group but everythinglike that round here fell by the wayside first because they closed our choildrens centre and now covid safety measures would stop anything in its tracks. The ironic thing is that I once ran seven carers groups as part of my work with carers with people like Carers National and Princess Royal Trust for Carers but now I need support…

Having a very bad day. My child was supposed to be at a friends and she has gone missing and my husband is looking at me as if he really hates me. I can’t take the strain of caring for her and worrying about what she is up to/doing to herself any more.

Pauline … do you still have any contacts at the Carers Support groups you worked with?

I am just wondering whether the two of you need a break from each other now and then. My daughter goes for a respite break a few times each year and it is BLISS! It’s about 20 miles away at the seaside and the carer lives right on the beach so they do lots of walking, swimming and dog walking. Apparently she is “like a real mother” and “really listens to me” and “brings me tea in bed.” :joy::joy:

I am assuming she has turned up tonight. Fingers crossed. I honestly would be jumping up and down if I were you because you both need support and help now. Xx