Helen Klimkowicz has set up a support group for parents and adult relatives of children struggling with depression
New Source of Support for parents of depressed kids
Kent Online March 2015
Mum of three Helen Klimkowicz did her best to help as a teenage relative struggled with depression.
It made her realise how little support is available for parents and adult relatives who have to deal with the condition and decided to set up her own group which meets for the first time tonight (Monday).
Mrs Klimkowicz, 45, a teaching assistant who lives in Chatham, hopes the group will be somewhere people can meet and and share their experiences.
Helen Klimkowicz, 45, from Chatham is determined to help parents.
She said: “Any parent who has a child going through the ordeal of childhood depression will know the feeling of losing their own mind.
“We are finding that children are getting younger and younger when they are diagnosed with mental health issues, depression and anxiety, stress which can lead to self-harm and more.
“It (depression) has a profound effect on other family members and our worlds fell apart when we didn’t know what to do about it or how to deal with it.
“There is no right or wrong way, you have to take each day as it comes but sometimes you do feel in such a desperate situation.
“I just feel sharing my experience with others will help as parents need support too. I would urge any parent who is in a similar situation to come along.”
The group will meet for the first time at Fort Pitt Grammar School, Fort Pitt Hill, Chatham, 6pm to 7.30pm. Mrs Klimkowicz will then run the meetings on the last Monday of the month excluding bank holidays.
BLOB: To find out more call 07487 594926 or email email@example.com
As stats reveal one in 10 youngsters, some as young as five, suffer mental health disorders, Closer investigates what's behond the rise, and speaks to one mum about her daughter's depression...
It might seem like something more commonly associated with adults, but mental health issues are becoming an increasing problem among young children and teens.
According to the Office for National Statistics, one in 10 five to 16-year-olds, have mental health disorders and nearly 80,000 youngsters suffer from severe depression.
Shockingly, for many children their feelings spiral out of control and the number of hospital admissions for younger people self harming has risen by 68 per cent in the last decade in the UK.
Supermodel Cara Delevigne has spoken about her battle with depression as a teen. Emma Saddleton, helpline manager at charity Young Minds, receives 11,000 calls a year from worried parents. She says: "We're seeing a rise in calls as people are becoming more aware about mental health problems. Children are more suseptible to mental health issues such as cyber bullying- they can't escape the bullies due to social media. Life is more pressured for them, and with tests like SATs they are constantly being examined."
Senior Consultant Psychiatrist with the NHS Dr Ramya Mohan adds:
"More young people are attaining GCSEs of 5 or more, which can increase competition, exam pressure and the likelihood of mental health difficulties like depression .
"Substance misuse and dependence has increased over the past decade due to ease of access, better knowledge of legal highs and more peer pressure and this can cause mental health problems."
Helen Klimkowicz understands the pain of coping with a child suffering from mental illness. Her daughter, 16-year-old Hannah, was 14 when she was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and is still taking antidepressants to cope.
Teaching assistant Helen, who runs a support group for parents of children with mental illness, says: "I watched Hannah go from a happy child to a shell of her former self. She became withdrawn and refused to go to school. She even turned to self harming. I felt so powerless.
"Fortunately we got help through the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service and Hannah is now taking antidepressants and coping well. But I want to raise awareness about mental health issues so parents can spot the signs and get help."
Hannah's behaviour began to change when she was 13, Helen who has two older daughters Grace 20, and Laura 24, and has also suffered from depression - says she stopped meeting friends and became angry and negative. At first i put it down to teenage behaviour but her moods escalated. At 14 her best friend left school and she became more reclusive. Then on holiday when i suggested she spend time with some family friends she had a panic attack and begged me not to make her. On our return we saw our GP and she was referred to CAMHS and had counselling at school, but i was still worried. In September 2013 Hannah began refusing to go to school.
Helen says shed spend all day in her room sleeping, I begged her to go to school, but she would get hysterical. Some nights she would be up till the early hours, and i would find her crying. When i asked her what was wrong, she would just say i don't want to be here anymore. As i have suffered from depression myself, i thought that was the problem But we were still on the waiting list to see a specialist, unbeknown to Helen, Hannah was self harming for several months before she found out in November 2013.
Helen says two of her friends had told the school student services, she was cutting herself, i was distraught and felt terrible i hand't noticed. She wore baggy clothes to cover her body so i couldn't see the scars, when i confronted Hannah about it she refused to talk about it. Desperate for help Helen contacted CAMHS again an four days later Hannah was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and given anti-depressants.
Helen who is in recovery from breast cancer said , "It was such a relief to get the diagnosis. She missed nearly a year of school, but she is making good progress, she is on the waiting list to have further therapy and sees a child psychologist monthly. Hannah adds i felt so low but didn't know how to pull myself out of it. I didn't want to worry mum and felt embarrassed i wasn't coping with my feelings. Now i am on anti-depressants i feel a lot better. But i still have bad days, i have just learnt to pull myself out of them. Coping with mums illness was tough, but i knew i had to stay strong for her.
Now Helen is hoping her support group Tea And Chat. will help other parents. She adds i set up my support group as there is so little out there for parents. There needs to be more intervention in the early stages though GP''s and NHS services to diagnose mental illness. And schools need to be more aware of the signs. I want to tell other parents they are not alone and there is help out there
The Mental Health Foundation has said that if we are serious about preventing people from developing mental health problems then we have to deliver on early intervention with a focus on children and young people. Visit Mentalhealth.org.uk for more info.
Tea And Chat: A new support group for parents
Healthwatch Medway: Hi Helen so you have set up Tea and Chat could you briefly describe what the group is and who it is for.
Helen Klimcowicz: The group is a listening ear for parents with youngsters who suffer from depression, anxiety, eating disorders, stress and related emotional behaviours.
HM: What inspired you to start the group?
HK: Firstly, my own experiences inspired me to start the group. Having had a relative suffer from depression, I thought that I cannot be the only one going through this. There are phone numbers you can call, but it is not the same as speaking to others going through the same thing. I also learned about a dementia family support group in Medway that had been set up by Cathy Brett, which inspired me to to something similar.
HM: What is the biggest challenge that you have encountered?
HK So far, services have been fairly good, but having spoken to members of the group, a key problem for people has been long waiting times and dawdling in getting diagnosis. Another problem people have had is that when your child reaches 18 they need to re-register with adult services and it is not a smooth transition. There are so many gaps!
HM Do you feel like you were supported by the school? If so how did the school support you?
HK I can’t say a bad word about Fort Pitt Grammar School. From teachers to librarians were brilliant in the support. They changed schedules and allowed study periods to accommodate my relative.
HM: what would a good child and adolescent mental Health Services (CAMHS) look like?
HK: You need to be seen as soon as possible. Currently the initial consultation is fine, but the follow up waiting can be dire. Ideally, the should be a response within 2 day, a follow up within 7 days and a treatment within a month, at the latest. It would also be good to have someone to talk to and who can guide you through the process.
HM: What would you like to achieve with the group?
HK: It started off as a simple listening ear, but it has really taken off. Now we want a permanent support group and potentially a counselling service in Medway. We are working with rethink and mind to help achieve that.
HM Do you have any advice for parents in a similar position?
HK: if your child is school age, speak to the school first. Let them work with you, you can also speak to your GP, but trust your instincts, there is no right or wrong. If you notice their behaviour change or if they withdraw within themselves, you may wish to get in contact with someone.
HM: How can someone contact you if they are interested in joining the group?
HK: You can call us on 07487594926 or email the group at firstname.lastname@example.org
We also have a website address www.teaandchat.co.uk