Today I just wanted to write about a particular patient I saw on the children’s ward which opened my eyes to the variety of conditions that can actually affect children and how different members of the team can be involved in creating the diagnoses for these conditions.
Today on the ward there was a girl who, according to the play therapists, had been admitted to the ward many times before, but each time had been returned home after a short stay with the doctors and nurses claiming that “there’s nothing wrong with her”. Hearing this sparked my curiosity as I began to wonder why it was that the child kept returning to the ward, surely there must have been an issue which was perhaps previously overlooked. I only spent a few hours on the ward, but during these hours it was quite noticeable to me that she was quite distressed as occasionally she would start crying very loudly and a couple of nurses had to go to her to try and calm her down.
The nurses said that this time she had been admitted to the ward claiming that she couldn’t move the fingers on her left hand. This was rather unusual for the healthcare staff as she had not experienced any type of accident or injury which could have resulted in her being able to not move her fingers. Due to this, the play therapists were sent to speak with her to see if they could gather anymore information from her as children tend to be more likely to interact with the play therapist rather than a doctor whom they could regard as being quite daunting. Two of the play therapists took some paints and after spending a short amount of time engaging with the girl they returned and passed on what they had learnt to the rest of the healthcare team. They decided to do some fingerprinting with the girl and actually learnt that the functioning of her fingers was perfectly normal. Once she was given the paints she was able to painlessly use them and there was no issues regarding the movement of her hand.
This led the doctors and nurses to conclude that she was suffering for some mental health problems. One of the play therapists mentioned to me that each time she comes in they always suspected that it may be a mental health problem. After this I began wondering whether there was actually any special children’s mental health wards that she could have been admitted to instead which could have helped her overcome any issues she was having. Mental health problems amongst children was not something I had previously given much thought to, but now I am able to reflect on how important it is that it is taken seriously. Children would most likely need more specialised and personalised care and there should be services which are available to specifically support children. It is known that unfortunately mental health is an area which tends to hold a stigma anyway, but from this experience at the hospital and being able to observe the response of people within the healthcare team, such as the play therapists…I was able to notice how lightly they took the issue and how easily they brushed it off once it became apparent that it was involving her mental state. I think children’s mental health is an area which could possibly hold an even greater stigma and isn’t given the correct amount of attention with one of the reasons being that adults tend to frown upon the idea saying that children have nothing to worry about and therefore no right to be depressed or internally unstable. This is clearly wrong and very worrying. I remember learning from my mental health campaign that the age of people who are being affected by mental health problems is continually becoming younger which shows that this should be a growing serious concern for everybody.