Listen to Norfolk boy, 9, tell of battle with depression
- Credit: Time to change/Newscast Online
A nine-year-old boy left waiting more than two years for a mental health diagnosis has told of his feelings in a heartbreaking letter.
Paul, whose surname we are not publishing, wrote: 'I normally say to myself you have to keep on going. I normally also say 'is it worth it'. I could just kill myself. I wouldn't have to face today.'
The child, who lives in Norfolk, has been passed from pillar to post as he seeks help for acute anxiety and autism spectrum disorder.
His mother Claire, 40, feared his childhood was 'disappearing' as they waited for help.
She said that individuals within the NHS had been 'amazing' but they were operating within a 'broken system'.
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His GP was 'brilliant', and as Paul was into robots he got him to draw a picture of a robot control panel with dials for anger and happiness.
But in Paul's words, he 'can only feel what he's feeling'.
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He falls short of thresholds required by CAMHS - child and adolescent mental health service - for treatment.
His family is paying for private occupational therapy, and Paul qualified for eight weeks of talking therapy with a local charity but this is about to end.
'I don't know if it just makes us feel uncomfortable as a society so we don't deal with it,' said Claire. 'Or if there's not enough money or people think it's a phase.
'But living with it is really hard.'
They have been supported by North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, whose son Archie has struggled with mental health issues.
Mr Lamb helped arrange a meeting between Claire and representatives from health organisations at County Hall to press them for help.
She felt it would be inappropriate for Paul to attend with her and her husband, so he decided to write the letter.
It was 'awful' to read it, but was worse to hear him say it, and she urged people to recognise that children can suffer from mental health issues too.
'I suppose before he started feeling like this I would have been one of those dismissive people,' said Claire. 'What have you got to worry about? You don't have bills to pay, you've got a roof over your head and a family around you.
'I understand where it comes from, I really do, but it's real and it comes from somewhere within him.'
Mr Lamb said work was happening to address the issue of child mental health, but not nearly enough.
'There's an urgency to this that I think the government needs to recognise,' he said.