Children's mental health services 'inadequate', inquest into Kendal schoolgirl's death hears

The Westmorland Gazette: Children's mental health services 'inadequate' hears inquest into Kendal schoolgirl Children's mental health services 'inadequate' hears inquest into Kendal schoolgirl

CHILDREN’S mental health services in south Cumbria were found to be ‘inadequate’ following the death of Kendal schoolgirl Helena Farrell.

A Serious Untoward Incident Report was carried out into the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) after the 15-year-old was found hanged in Kendal woodland in January, 2013.

It found five areas the service needed to urgently improve, including a failure to record the level of risk Helena posed to herself, issues with the level of competency of some CAMHS staff and information sharing, which was judged to be ‘inadequate’.

Lynette Moore, clinical services manager at the Cumbria NHS Partnership trust, said the the ‘purpose’ of the review was to ‘learn lessons’.

“It’s to change procedure in a timely way so that anything that urgently needs to be addressed can be done so.”

The evidence was heard at the second day of the inquest.

The hearing opened yesterday with claims from Helena’s father, Enda Farrell, that the service at the time was ‘in disarray’.

The court heard that although Helena had sought help on December 3 she wasn’t referred to CAMHS until December 10.

She was referred after telling school nurse, Donna Moore, that she had been sexually assaulted on an exchange trip to Germany and that this had led to 18 months of bulimia.

On the evening of December 3 she took an overdose of paracetamol and at a party later that month attempted to cut herself with a knife.

The court also heard she was ‘heartbroken’ after breaking up with former boyfriend, Billy Williams.

The Kirkbie Kendal School pupil was found hanged in woodland behind the town’s Castle Green Hotel on January 4.

She was found at around 6.50pm by Mr Williams, now 18, who had been searching the area for her with a friend of his, his mother and Cumbria policeman, PC Paul Kelly.

“I wasn’t expecting it,” said PC Kelly. “I wasn’t expecting to see what I found.”

Helena previously attended the Windermere School and was a high achiever in both sports and the arts.

“My daughter to me was a very bright, intelligent and adventurous, fun-loving, life-loving girl,” added Mr Farrell.

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