As a parent, if your child is struggling with their mental health, and you are beside yourself with worry, not knowing if the challenges your child is facing will cause them to harm themselves, not being able to work because you can’t leave your child alone, the last thing you want is to be told you need to wait.

But sadly that is the reality of mental health support for children and young people in Scotland. Services are stretched to breaking point and we are in times of crisis.

If this distraught parent, or grandparent, or carer is you, imagine if someone said to you, come in today, we can speak to you, and your child, and provide support through these tough times. In a mental health crisis, there is no time to wait.

Six months ago Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity opened the doors at The Haven, a wellbeing and resilience service based at The Fraser Centre in Tranent. The service is unique, it doesn’t just help the child, it provides a whole family intervention so everyone who is affected by the child’s mental health problems can seek support. It recognises that having a family member struggling with their mental health can impact on everyone around them.

The initiative is based on early intervention, to prevent problems escalating to the point where medical intervention is needed. Our very best case scenario is that we can demonstrate that The Haven is reducing the impact on CAMHS. The Haven is a psychologically informed service but it will not replace or duplicate the work of CAMHS. We will, however, try to alleviate the pressures facing mental health services for children and young people.

We have been staggered by the number of people we have been able to support through The Haven, and the impact the service has had on young people and their families. This service really does have the potential to be transformational.

Over the first six months, the data showing children and families benefiting from The Haven is extremely promising. We are open for three afternoons every week and since opening last September, we have attracted almost 1,300 visits.

We are of course delighted that The Haven appears to be working, and working well but the elephant in the room is the fact that as a charity, we can’t fund this forever. We have the resources to run this pilot for two years. At the end of two years if we don’t have another revenue source, The Haven will close.

The last thing we want is to take the service away from those who need it. Parents have told us they are "drowning’" they "don’t know where to turn", and visiting The Haven has given them relief. Not only do we want to reassure parents that The Haven will be in Tranent for as long as they need it, but we want a Haven in every community, in every local authority area so no child, parent, carer, or sibling has to feel like they have nowhere to turn.

Roslyn Neely is Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Children's Hospital Charity

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