Crawley mother-of-two founds charity for families in need of children's mental health counselling

A mother-of-two from Crawley has set up a charity to fund a space for low income families whose children need counselling and to provide that support for free.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 1:26 pm

The charity's founder, Tia Price, who lives in Southgate, has set up a JustGiving page to raise £30,000 for families who are unable to receive mental health counselling services for their children.

The charity was born out of her two sons’ difficult personal circumstances. These difficulties have been exacerbated and magnified during the recent lockdowns.

Tia asked her youngest son's school to make mental health counselling available but nothing was forthcoming.

Mother-of-two Tia Price, from Southgate, has set up a charity to fund a space for low income families whose children need counselling and to provide that support for free

Tia then experienced problems accessing support from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), and was faced with the exorbitant cost of private face-to-face counselling sessions.

These circumstances eventually drove Tia to setting up her own charity.

She said: “In attempting to seek counselling for my son, in light of a deficit within school currently and a long wait beforehand; an absence of support through CAMHS and a very long wait before his ‘pre-assessment’; a large cost attached to any private sessions that also have limited or inflexible availability; an absence of any assistance that is face to face due to his age, meaning he cannot have online sessions and an absence of trained counsellors for children, I have determined to set up a charity.

“The aim is to benefit all those families who struggle and cannot reach the support needed before behaviours set in and cement into the psyche.”

Tia has worked with teenagers within the Fresh Start - a service available to children often undiagnosed with poor mental health and many times expelled - as an English lecturer, and has met many people who are disillusioned with CAMHS and all public mental health services.

The mother-of-two said that the need for mental health counselling for children was greater than ever, and that she had big plans for the new charity.

She added: “At no point prior has the need for counselling been so great, for children specifically, and the services available so out of reach and lacking, for so many.

“This is currently within an ideas stage and I am doing the groundwork I can to arrange this process and set up what would be a charity.

“I hope to arrange a system by which trainee counsellors, as part of an internship, or recently qualified counsellors might lend their experience to the charity for their own experience, CPD or as part of a position as a counsellor within the group, and giving sessions one to one to clients who are in need.

“If any might volunteer as part of this would be advantageous as I feel so many families could benefit from this. I know my son would.”

Tia’s vision for the charity also includes calm, communal spaces for both children and their parents or guardians.

She said: “I would love to visualise a space in which art therapy, music therapy and a sensory garden might be incorporated for children to buffer the post-counselling feelings.

“Though adolescents would not be the focus, a space for them could be designated.

“Groups for parents to communicate, support each other, art therapy and parenting for adults with anxious or traumatised children would also be an aim as part of afternoon or weekend support hubs.”

Tia added: “If anyone would contribute to this, which could benefit not only the families of children who struggle, but more significantly, the next generation of adults who will have learnt strategies to cope and guide themselves through the difficulties life can present, you have my eternal gratitude.”

A joint statement from Sussex NHS Commissioners, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and West Sussex County Council said: "

“We know there are many children and young people who are struggling with their mental health and emotional wellbeing, and that the need for services across Sussex has increased as a result of the pandemic.

“Local authorities, NHS services and other partners across a range of services are working together to support children, young people and their families with their emotional health and wellbeing, including investing more than £6m this year to improve and expand specialist mental health services, focusing on increasing capacity in early intervention and prevention and additional support directly into schools.”