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Hundreds of children struggling with mental health issues after Grenfell


More than 500 children have been referred for mental health treatment since the Grenfell fire, according to the latest NHS figures obtained by Sky News.

They show that in the past year a total of 521 children and 2,006 adults have been seen by health teams in the area.

More than 1,600 people have been identified as being in urgent need of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The NHS has been running services in Kensington since the fire, visiting local schools to support children who need help and talking to concerned parents.

Dr Sara Northey is a clinical psychologist who runs the children’s services at the Grenfell Health and Wellbeing clinics and says the scale of the trauma is unprecedented.

She said: “The trauma is affecting the entire community, entire families.

“It’s had a massive, unprecedented effect in terms of the number of people who have been affected.

“There’s obviously the people who were living in the tower and the bereaved but this is a tight knit community and many children witnessed the fire, many of them have lost friends and teachers.”



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The children of Grenfell tower

Dr Northey says many of the children are regressing and showing signs of PTSD.

“They’re experiencing flashbacks and intrusive memories of the night,” she said.

“Problems sleeping and concentrating at school and with the little ones, so under five years old, there are cases of separation anxiety and bed wetting.

“Children are not wanting to go to bed without their parents.

“We have definitely seen the symptoms change over time, which is normal.

“In the early days people were shocked and upset and over time more people are coming forward to say ‘now my child does need some help’.”



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Child shares memories of Grenfell victim

Piers Thompson and his family have lived next to Grenfell Tower for 13 years. From their backdoor you can see the tower in full view.

He said: “It’s very difficult to live next to a burnt out building and see it every day.

“My family have been getting regular and serious counselling.

“My 14-year-old daughter is on antidepressants now.

“We are coping, all we can do is cope, day by day.”

Only last week charred insulation from the tower fell into Mr Thompson’s garden, which he says has been a regular occurrence over the past year.

“We sort of got used to it, that’s how absurd it is.

“It’s a real memory of the night which our daughter finds deeply upsetting.”

Linda Rose is a volunteer who has witnessed the impact the fire has had on people’s mental health. She is qualified in youth and community work and spent many years providing therapy for children in Sri Lanka after the tsunami in 2004.

She lives in Derbyshire and for the past year has travelled to the Kensington area most weeks to provide support to families who are deeply traumatised. She says she never imagined she would still be needed.



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Testimonies from the victims’ loved ones

She said: “If people were starting to heal I could kind of wean myself off and keep in touch but we are still fighting, still writing letters, we are really concerned about people’s mental health and whether they’re going to live or die.

“Things have not got better – since Christmas I feel like I have been in a hamster wheel.”

Linda says she sees many people who are suicidal.

“People are struggling to keep going and to find a future.

“The problem with suicide is that it is underestimated.

“People are carrying a massive burden and it’s not about wanting to die but struggling to live and small things can put people over the edge.”

She added: “You would expect people would be a lot better and onto a new phase in their lives but the reality is many people are more ill than when they came out of the tower.

“The process has been so draining and navigating the system has been an absolute nightmare.”

:: If you need free and confidential help relating to the trauma of the fire, the Grenfell Health and wellbeing Outreach Team can be contacted on 020 8962 4393 (10am to 8pm).



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