Last night, at the Camp Simcha So Much More London Dinner,  we announced plans to extend our support to families who have a child with a serious mental health condition.

Addressing nearly 1,000 guests at the charity’s gala dinner last night, Camp Simcha’s President Jonathan Goldstein spoke of the need for a multi-organisational response to the growing needs of the community in this area.

“I don’t have to tell you how big an issue the mental health of our children has become now, too big for any one charity to deal with alone. It needs multiple organisations, working at it, applying their own specialisms.

Mr Goldstein outlined plans for Camp Simcha to start to work, in close cooperation with colleagues at Jami, Norwood and other agencies, to deliver “what Camp Simcha does best – whole family pastoral care; practical and emotional support services – to families who have a child with a serious mental health condition”.

“This extension of our services will be done professionally and safely but I stress again, that Camp Simcha will work hand in hand with colleagues in the other key agencies – maximising support for families but minimising duplication.”

Explaining the motivation for this move, our Chief Executive Neville Goldschneider said: “Camp Simcha’s stated mission is to be there for every family that needs us. With this extension of our services the list is complete: we will now truly be able to support families coping with any and EVERY serious childhood illness.”

Initially the plan is to begin offering support to a pilot group of families who have a child who has been hospitalised or on extended school absence as a result of their mental health condition.

“For example, severe OCD, eating disorders, anxiety… we will be working with a Mental Health Professional who will join our team and who will assess every family before any pastoral support services are put in place.”

“This is where our collaborative approach will come into play – we will be liaising with other charities and agencies to ensure clinical needs of the child and family are being met before we step in.”

Clinical psychologist Karen Millett who has worked with Camp Simcha during the consultation process – and also in developing the plans for the new service, explained the need for the kind of care we can offer.

“When a child’s mental health condition has become so severe that they are hospitalised or off school, parents become understandably absorbed in the care of that child. Often parents say to me they are really worried about the impact on the sibling. What Camp Simcha plans to do is provide a support system that enables the whole family to cope in this situation.

“With physical conditions, there is often a clear treatment path, but it isn’t necessarily the same with mental health. It’s a much greyer and less straightforward path. In addition, families are also coping with the shock and the stigma they sometimes feel is attached.

“The important thing is Camp Simcha will assess each family and their needs and offer differentiated, bespoke support for parents and siblings, while ensuring that any person with mental health difficulties is keyed into the relevant clinical services.”