The NSPCC have today released some startling figures which reveal that 95% of professionals working with the victims of child sex abuse believe that the mental health services available to help them overcome the effects of the abuse are inadequate.
Child sex abuse can lead to long term psychiatric problems if not addressed immediately. In my job as a Solicitor acting for the victims of child sex abuse I regularly come across clients with long term chronic psychiatric conditions including depression, self harm, PTSD and attachment disorders.
I also regularly come across children who have only recently been removed from abusive situations and are desperate for psychiatric input.
I would endorse the views of my fellow professionals working in this field such that child psychiatric services are wholly inadequate.
Only in the most serious of cases do we ever tend to see any involvement from CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services). Even in these cases it is often difficult to access much needed services and the Councils who are funding the treatment are often trying to balance budgets and find the funds to pay for what can be expensive treatment.
In two cases I am dealing with where children have been sexually abused by their parents we have had to employ an independent Case Manager to oversee the treatment that is being provided. In one case this was actually ordered by the Court just to ensure that these badly damaged children are receiving the help that they need.
A major component in any settlement that we achieve for both children and adults alike is an award for treatment costs. This can include Cognitive Behaviour Therapy treatment or EMDR treatment. Each session of treatment can cost as much as £150.00 and it is important that when we conclude these claims we make financial provision for the cost of this treatment not only today but also in the future. You will unfortunately find that victims of abuse are more susceptible than most people to relapses in the future particularly if faced with other stresses in their lives for example losing a job or the death of a family member. It is recognised by Claimants and Defendants alike that these services are not readily available on the NHS and the Defendants are therefore always willing to cover the cost of any treatment required now or in the future. Securing appropriate settlements for Claimants ensures that they have sufficient funds if they need to access psychiatric help in the future.
The best way to avoid this happening is to provide the treatment needed by children as soon as abuse becomes apparent. The quicker the problem is addressed the less likely it is to become a chronic long term issue.
The figures released by the NSPCC today sadly show that we are completely failing to do this at present.
If you need any help or advice, please do not hesitate to contact me today.