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What Happens to a Family When Their Child Is Struggling with Severe Mental Illness?

The story of Sally Burke and her 13-year-old daughter Maisie, who has been placed in a psychiatric ward 118 miles away from home.

by VICE Staff
Apr 27 2015, 4:25pm

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

Sally Burke is a mother from Hull, England. But to see her daughter—13-year-old Maisie—she is forced to make a 118-mile round trip to Sheffield, where Maisie is currently sectioned under the Mental Health Act and receiving treatment for paranoid schizophrenia.

A national shortage of hospital beds means people in crisis are being shunted all over the UK for hospital care. This, tragically, includes children. If troubled young people having to wait for two years for mental health treatment wasn't bad enough, that they can often only be admitted to psychiatric wards that are miles away from their homes and families is even more terrifying.

The figures surrounding the mental health of young Brits are alarming. The number of children being admitted to hospital for self-harm is at a five-year high. Admissions of girls ages ten to 14 have increased by 93 percent in the last four years, to 5,953, while there's been a rise of 45 percent in boys. Within this same timeframe, NHS spending on children's mental health services in England has fallen by approximately $76 million.

These have left local services in a desperate position, and the human consequence of this is felt by people like Sally and Maisie. We join the former as she makes the trek to Sheffield, its emotional toll only increased by the knowledge that just a mile away from her home is a unit that could have housed Maisie had its overnight care facility not been shut two years ago.

Maisie is a short film about what happens to a family when a child is hit by severe mental health problems and a government breaks its promises.

Click here to explore the rest of The VICE Guide to Mental Health.