Bridging the Gap in Mental Health Services


Why this is urgent right now

The current crisis in mental health services affects all of us. Current figures reveal that one in 10 children now have a diagnosable mental health condition yet waiting lists for an initial appointment with CAMHS in Kent can be up to 18 months and for private mental health services, up to a staggering six months. Who is helping the families and children during this period?

At a time of intense anxiety, many parents are really struggling, trying to manage very challenging behaviours with limited knowledge and skills and the overwhelming sense that no-one is available to help them.

And yet, research shows that parents can successfully support their children during this period if they are given a little practical support. 1

“Good quality parenting programmes can make a real difference…they also potentially contribute to substantial cost savings in the public sector. Despite these opportunities, only a small minority of children and families get the help they need to protect their children’s life chances.”2  

The struggles and failings of CAMHS are frequently in the headlines.  Dr John Goldin, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Great Ormond Street Hospital in an interview on BBC’s Panorama, September 2018, said “The trouble is the services are very stretched, we’re not meeting the need, so in that sense it’s not fit for purpose.” CAMHS has been accused of “rationing services in favour of those who have attempted suicide”. 3

2017 Figures from Mental Health of Children and Young People in England,4 state that 1 in 8, 5 to 19-year olds had at least one mental disorder when assessed in 2017 and of those Emotional disorders were the most prevalent type of disorder4. Yet figures from CAHMS gained by the Panorama investigation show that one in four children have been rejected from being offered help and a total of 55,800 children did not meet CAMHS criteria.

Before I founded my Family Relationship & Parenting Coaching practice, I worked as Support Worker at a local homeless hostel for vulnerable youth, where I personally witnessed cases of CAHMS “rationing services” because clients were not “in crisis”.

A BBC News report following the BBC’s Panorama programme listed how the service criteria has been rationed, stating reasons for excluding under-18s from service involvement including:

  • Self-harm referrals only accepted if accompanied by another mental health condition
  • Weight loss of less than 15% of an ideal weight for an eating disorder (against NICE recommendations)
  • Must have already engaged with early intervention and waited a specified length of time

NICE Guidelines recommend providing parenting skills support to parents and carers but in my experience here in Kent, this isn’t on offer. Rather, parents are being encouraged to ensure their children fit the criteria for support. One mother I’ve spoken to who wanted to explore alternative treatment options rather than medication for her son, was told that unless he took the recommended medication, she would be discharged from services and would not be offered any support. This advice left her feeling intimidated into accepting medicating her son, and raises the question of where is the person-centred care?

This piece is not written with the intention of undermining CAMHS, which is working with overwhelming demand. CAMHS is working in a context where child mental health referrals have risen by 26% in the last 5 years, and referrals in 2017-2018, for under-18s rose to 198,280, (compared with 157,000 in 2013-14)5.

  • Nearly 19,000 children were admitted to hospital after harming themselves in 2015 – a 14 per cent rise over three years5
  • Between 2013/14 and 2014/15, referral rates increased five times faster than the CAMHS workforce5
  • The average waiting time for children and young people to access mental health services ranges from 14 to 200 days5
  • Once through the referral process and finally able to get specialist support, even young people with life-threatening conditions can wait more than 100 days before receiving any form of treatment.5

This rise in demand may be attributed to more mental health awareness, which can only be a positive. But in a climate where 1.5 million children live in areas with no 24/7 crisis care, and 27 out of 111 local authorities who were consulted, said they had SCRAPPED services3 related to the mental health and wellbeing of children over the last 8 years, it is no wonder that we use the words ‘crisis’, and ‘failing’ because we are failing the families involved and I am advocating that we have an obligation to ‘bridge the gap’, because waiting for children to reach crisis point can have devastating consequences.

Nick Waggett, Chief Executive of the Association of Child Psychotherapists said: ‘We do hear stories of children and young people having to have attempted suicide on a number of occasions actually before they are seen within the service. The problem is that then they’re very ill and it actually becomes increasingly difficult to offer them an effective treatment.’ 6

There are professionals who can help parents understand a diagnosis of a neuro-biological condition, and provide practical implementable tools, strategies and techniques that will make a difference. At The Weller Way, we work with parents and teenagers daily

At a time when negative behaviours can dominate, we can help remind you to focus on what your child does well, show you how to effectively praise positive behaviours, how to notice and record triggers and so much more. We believe that parents have strong intuition, know their children better than anyone else and, equipped with the right tools and skills really can make a positive difference.

You can make contact with us here


  1. Parenting and Outcomes for children: Thomas G O’Connor/Stephen BC Scott for Joseph Rowntree Foundation 2007. (
  2. A chance to change: Delivering effective parenting programmes to change lives: Brown/Khan /Parsonage 15 October 2012
  3. BBC News24/9/18

The Weller Way Revision Guide for teens



It’s that time again, exam season, are you dreading it, or do you feel in control? However you are feeling with a little memory refresher of some revision techniques and some ways to boost your motivation that are tried and tested to ensure success by reducing stress, you will be able to build your confidence

The key thing for revision success is to find out how your brain works best for learning and retaining information. You may already have an idea, but if you are finding revision a struggle, or your brain a bit of a muddle, you can find out your  learning style here:  Continue reading “The Weller Way Revision Guide for teens”

The Power of the AND

3 Minute read

Who had the Connect kit in their home, that magnetic one, with the balls and the sticks, the bits that always blocked the hoover!? It always fascinated me how each one of my children could make very different shapes, ones that got more convoluted, as time went on. There are so many popular toys, that we buy our children, toys that are good for improving fine motor skills, all toys that have connecting bits, Brio, Duplo, jigsaw puzzles, Lego, bits that all slot in and fit together. Did you watch your child get more confident with them, each time, building more and more complicated constructions? And then would say…”let’s tidy up now”, in my house, the beloved construction would be put on display for Daddy to look at but eventually it would have  to be broken up and put back in it’s box. It could never be lasting.

We teach our children from a very early age to Continue reading “The Power of the AND”

Do you enrage or engage with your Teenager?


By the time you’ve finished reading this blog, which is based on a talk I present, I hope that you:

  • Will feel more confident in dealing with teenage challenges by understanding the science behind the tremendous changes in the adolescent brain.
  • Be able to engage rather than enrage
  • Can feel more connected with your teenager by seeing the whole person
  • Be able to see that  shifting our cultural perception that teenagers are a “nightmare” to a believing that adolescence is a stage of life not to “get over” or “endure”, but one to cultivate well.

Continue reading “Do you enrage or engage with your Teenager?”

Time for a Parenting Detox?


We have set new goals at the beginning of a new year since ancient times. I

have read that the ancient Babylonians, 4000 years ago  are believed to have been the the first people to make New Year’s resolutions and then the  Romans made promises of good conduct to the God Janus, for the following year.

It is common to set personal intentions around Diet, Alcohol, Weight, Travel, Career or Business, Education, Hobbies, Self Help and Bad Habits, but do you consider setting any intentions regarding your family life, and specifically your Parenting? Continue reading “Time for a Parenting Detox?”

Tis’ the season for a Pantomine

Christmas is the time of traditions, and going to a Pantomine is a firm family favourite across the land. Pantomine is not originally a British tradition or a children’s entertainment show.

Pantomine began as entertainment for adults, it can be traced back to the ancient Roman “Saturnalia” Midwinter feast, at which everything was supposed to be turned upside down. Men dressed as women, and women as men, just like the pantomime dames and principal boy leading role. Continue reading “Tis’ the season for a Pantomine”

The Balance Act

The Author Alain de Botton said:

 “there is no such thing as work/life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life” .

Whether you find that re-assuring or not, when we talk about balance, we can get stressed and feel guilty just trying . What are we trying to balance? Is there a conflict in trying to achieve a balance between work, play and parenting? The Modern Family Index 2017 found that only 1 in 5 parents claim they have the balance right.

Achieving Balance is a hot topic right now, in the light of the headlines quoting how many of us are stressed. The emphasis is very much placed on achieving a balance between work, play and parenting, but by doing so, have we missed an opportunity here to integrate all these parts in what contributes to making us whole? Can we shift the emphasis on finding a balance between our doing and our being, that embraces all our parts , beginning with grounding ourselves to the authentic version of ourselves, without feeling guilty? Continue reading “The Balance Act”

Name it to Tame it: How to teach children to surf the waves of Emotions

I’ve just returned from a lovely holiday in Turkey, and learnt two things:

  1. Turkish is a beautifully emotive language
  2. I’m a rubbish paddle boarder!

Is anyone a Surfer or paddle boarder?

I’ve tried it and just can’t master it, everytime I try to get up on the board, I wobble and down I go, back into the water. Not got the core strength! But you know how to lift yourself up everytime.

The goal of raising children should not be simply to have an obedient and compliant child, but one that can take control of how they feel through making choices. We want children that can use their own strengths to get up again when they are knocked back, and be able to self- regulate when they lose their balance. Just like surf boarders, this takes a lot of practice! Continue reading “Name it to Tame it: How to teach children to surf the waves of Emotions”

A Parent’s Guide for A Level Results Day

How to prepare for A Level Results


This week, millions of children will be anxiously awaiting their A Level  results tomorrow and planning the realisation of their hopes and dreams of their next stage in life.

3 years ago I wrote a blog about my son , you can find it here

I am so pleased to report that, having followed a new direction, a heart over head decision he has successfully graduated and has had the best time along the way. But the reason I wrote that blog was to encourage other parents to be creative on results day, if the results close one door, there are many doors open which are welcoming, beckoning and exciting . All it needs is a brainstorm and a leap of faith. Continue reading “A Parent’s Guide for A Level Results Day”

How to prepare our children Holistically for University


This isn’t another blogpost on University preparation about how to get student finance or prepare an IKEA shopping list, it is about how we can prepare our children holistically for the transition from school to studying away from home, family and friends, preparing them mentally and emotionally which can result in reducing the risks to their wellbeing through stress, anxiety and coping on their own whilst at University or College.

This transition comes at a crucial time, when the teenage brain is still developing, self-esteem and identity are still forming, and independent living skills together with self care strategies are probably not yet embedded. Continue reading “How to prepare our children Holistically for University”