“It felt like no-one was there for me and no-one cared – I was crying myself to sleep every night.” This is what life was like for Callum after he was taken into care aged 13 in 2008, following the death of his father and a family breakdown reports The BBC.
He told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme his mental health quickly deteriorated.
“I was still an emotional kid trying to get over Dad, and everything got on top of me. He was my superhero.”
Almost half of those in the care system have a diagnosable mental health disorder, according to statutory guidance published in 2015. Looked-after children are four times more likely than their non-looked after peers to have a mental health condition.
England’s children’s commissioner Anne Longfield has told the Victoria Derbyshire programme there should be “a presumption” among those working in the sector that all children in care should receive support for their mental health.
She said the care system had been too focused on child safeguarding in the past and not enough on helping children recover from traumatic upbringings.
“Kids aren’t nurtured enough when in care,” she said. “They will be – at best – able to get some support, but it’s still quite clunky. We need to see it differently – need to help children in terms of trauma-based therapy at an early stage.”
Callum said his self-harm became so destructive “I had a cut from my hip down to my kneecap”. He also tried to hang himself, but was stopped by a carer.
He agreed that more mental health support was needed, adding that when he first entered the care system he did not know where to look.
Read the full article and watch Callum’s interview ‘Speed up mental health support for children in care’ – Video
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