An 85 year old mother who is struggling to look after her mentally ill son is pleading for better mental health support for local carers.
The Haverhill woman, who asked not to be named, is caring for her 45-year-old son who is schizophrenic.
Speaking to the Echo, she said she has received no support and has been finding it difficult to cope with the strain.
“There used to be support in this town,” she said. “Places he could go to be looked after. He needs to be with other people, Now there’s nothing in Haverhill.
“I can’t get any help, there’s no help at all in this town. They closed the walk in centre.
“It’s wrong that there’s nowhere local for people with mental health problems. My son’s going off his head and I can’t cope on my own.”
The woman’s son has suffered with his mental health since being diagnosed with schizophrenia following a road accident when he was 16.
“He was hit by a car,” the woman said. “He was put in hospital and, three weeks later, they told us that he had schizophrenia.
“We struggled. He was really a mess. He was on so many pills. My husband died soon after that and, since then, I’ve been on my own. I’ve had no support at all as a carer, not in all these years.”
The woman highlighted the need for local mental health facilities in Haverhill, saying that services in Bury St Edmunds or elsewhere in Suffolk are too far removed and unable to respond to situations as they arise on a daily basis.
“He has to live with me,” she said. “Otherwise, he just can’t cope. I think he finds it quieter in Haverhill too. I can’t get around very well. We need someone to help us every day in town.
“He’s in and out of Addenbrooke’s hospital and then he comes back to live with me. I’m worried his health is deteriorating.
“I don’t want to die,” added the woman. “I’ve devoted all my life to looking after my son. I’ve got no one to help me and I’ve got no life.”
Matthew Hancock, MP for West Suffolk, expressed his concerns about the situation in Haverhill.
He said: “This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed immediately.
“I have written to the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and I will speak to all the GP practices in Haverhill individually to find out what needs to be done to improve the current situation.”
Currently, all mental health referrals need to be made by a GP before patients can be sent elsewhere in the county for help.
The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s Director of Operations for Suffolk, Alison Armstrong, said: “We try and work closely with our patients and their carers to give them the best treatment and care we can.
“We are part of the Carers Trust’s national Triangle of Care scheme. The Triangle of Care was developed by carers and mental health staff to improve carer engagement in acute inpatient and home treatment services.
“Obviously, if any carer or patient feels they need more support then we would ask them to get in touch with us so we can try and help them.”
People in similar circumstances can call Suffolk Family Carers on 01473 835400.