An Andover mum has called for change in the treatment of children’s mental health after “awful” waiting times for her daughter.

Gemma Roden has been trying to get help for daughter Kaylah through the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) following “outbursts of anger”. However, despite two self-referrals, and one for a doctor, the service has declined to put her on their books.

“I’m fighting my daughter’s corner and I’m just not getting anywhere,” Gemma told the Advertiser. “CAMHS are just ridiculous. I will keep fighting my daughter’s corner all the time but something needs to change.”

CAMHS is an NHS service that assesses and treats young people struggling with their emotions, behaviour and mental health, with specialist teams across the UK.

In the year to March, across England, there were 10,579 complaints made about NHS mental health organisations in total. 615 of these were made about the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which runs CAMHS services in Hampshire, which was the third highest for a mental health trust in the figures.

Gemma said that her daughter has had issues dealing with anger, and believes she may have undiagnosed autism which is contributing to these “outbursts”. To try and get support for Kaylah, Gemma has been trying to get her onto the CAMHS waiting list for some time.

“It’s been an absolute nightmare trying to even get her on the ladder for CAMHS,” the 36-year-old said. “They [CAMHS] keep saying she doesn’t meet the criteria.”

“They’re saying it’s just anger and she needs a bit of counselling, but they don’t see these outbursts. She needs to be assessed, and all I want for her is the help she needs.”

While private options are available, Gemma says that she would find it difficult to afford them.

“Going private costs a lot of money,” she said, “and I’m a single parent. I just couldn't afford to do this as much as I would like to.”

While she says that CAMHS are looking at a fourth referral, Gemma says she isn’t hopeful about her daughter being accepted. She called on the service to listen to parents and understand what they’re going through.

“I’d like them [CAMHS] to listen to what parents are saying, and the struggles they’re facing, as they don’t have to face it on a daily basis,” she said. “It’s really, really hard.

“Our children’s mental health is important and things need to change.”

In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said: “We know there are many children and young people who are struggling with their mental health and emotional wellbeing, and that the need for services across Hampshire has increased as a result of the pandemic.

“Local authorities, NHS services and other partners across a range of services are working together to support children, young people and their families with their emotional health and wellbeing, including investing more than £6m this year to improve and expand specialist mental health services, focusing on increasing capacity in early intervention and prevention and additional support directly into schools.”