ABU DHABI // A support group for parents of children with mental health issues has been launched in the capital.
Expatriate mothers Lisa Barfoot-Smith, whose 15-year-old son Louis committed suicide in December 2013, and Anne Walker, whose 10-year-old has refused to go to school for the past two years, established the group after they found they had nowhere to go for support.
Ms Walker’s son first showed suicidal tendencies in September 2013, when he was seven.
“At the time, there was no child inpatient facility in the UAE,” Ms Walker said. “He was admitted to Rashid Hospital in Dubai, where he was on the A&E adult ward, strapped to a bed with a cannula of intravenous drugs in his hand.”
Ms Walker spent the next two years taking her son from clinic to clinic in search of a solution until a doctor from Maudsley CAI Clinic, which provides mental health services for children, which opened in Abu Dhabi last year, visited her housebound son.
The doctor referred him to a hospital in London where he was admitted on February 4 and discharged last week. Ms Walker must now find a school for her son who, despite having an anxiety disorder and mild autism, is deemed fit for mainstream education.
She said of the support group, for parents of children with symptoms of depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, eating disorders or self harm: “I know how isolating it is when you have a child with mental illness. It’s a taboo subject. That’s why we need this group.”
This Thursday would have been Louis Smith’s 18th birthday. “Nobody tells you what to do, or how to support your child, you’re just expected to know,” said Mrs Barfoot-Smith.
“The support group is so parents can come together for a shoulder to cry on, to share stories and experiences.”
For details on when the group will meet, go to facebook.com/thelouissmith foundation or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: uae news