Belfast Telegraph

Mother's anguish as mentally-ill son discharged from Belfast hospital alone

By Gareth Cross

A Northern Ireland mother has spoken of her frustration saying her mentally ill son was released from a Belfast hospital alone with no warning to her.

The woman, who did not wish to be named, was speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show.

The in-depth interview detailed her 19-year-old son's struggle to find the right mental health care over a number of years and said that she had reached breaking point and was "on the point of collapse" after six years of caring for him.

The woman said that her son's problems began when he was twelve and someone "hurt him" which led to him suffering from post traumatic stress-disorder (PTSD).

As a result of the incident her son has been in and out of hospital and psychiatric units, has self-harmed and attempted suicide numerous times.

She described her struggle to find him the right care, claiming she was told at one stage that she couldn't bring him to hospital unless he tried to kill himself.

Her son's problems worsened after the person who caused his PTSD was released from pirson. The mother said that at one point things got so bad her son asked his doctors if there was any prospect of him receiving assisted suicide.

The woman, who works as a nursing assistant herself, said that things had come to a head over the last month when her son began hearing voices telling him to kill himself which led to him being admitted to Belfast's Mater Hospital.

After four days he was then released.

"He was discharged on a day that I was working and they didn't even ring me so I could pick him up," the woman told the Nolan Show.

"He suffers from agoraphobia and had to find his own way home.

"When I went to pick up his medication that evening I asked if the doctor could call me and explain why he was released but I never received a call."

Things worsened and the woman's son took an overdose which led to liver failure.

She said that when her son received the diagnosis he told doctors "I don't care".

The son told the Nolan Show that he "needed help".

"I've needed help since I was 13, I need medication with the right services and the right team and sometimes people need to be in hospital or a psychiatric unit," he said.

After leaving hospital he returned the following week and was transferred to Londonderry were the mother said a doctor told him that he would be better off going back to Belfast and getting treatment from his home treatment team.

"I need my son to be stable and to do that everyone needs to get onboard, I do a lot of these things on my own, he has PTSD and doesn't even have a social worker," the mother said.

"I think the whole health service doesn't work together in the right way, they see you have a parent who's doing it all and that makes their job a little bit easier.

"I work as a nursing assistant in a hospital and every day I try and help those people to the best of my ability, because I know what it feels like to be failed, to knock on those doors and they don't open, all I want is to help our family."

A Belfast Trust spokesperson said that they are in close contact with the family

"While we are unable to discuss details of any individuals care, we would be happy to address any matters of concern directly with the person involved or, if they so choose, a relative who has the appropriate levels of consent," the spokesperson said.

Should you need help with any of the matters raised in this report call the Samaritans call 116 123.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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