Ben was diagnosed with a brain tumour as an infant and underwent treatment at Alder Hey Hospital. However, he had very little access to psychological support during his treatment and recovery, which had a profound impact on his mental health in later years.
The impact of this lack of psychological support can have a lifelong effect on the progress of children, including their progress in education, and their pathway into employment, relationships and social development. As Ben grew older, he developed extreme exam anxiety around the age of 16, which led to a significant loss of confidence and withdrawal from social situations.
Ben’s mum, Rachel, said “Ben only passed his GCSEs because they took place during lockdown, when social and academic pressures were alleviated. He has never had a girlfriend, and it is hard for us to watch him go through his young adulthood with no sustained or genuine friendships.
“We help him feel accepted by integrating him with his brother Adam’s friends who are all incredible at making him feel part of their circle. Ben is such a precious young adult who is now transitioning into adult care, and I am in a constant state of anxiety about him. I truly believe that if he had more psychological support at an earlier age, he would have stronger foundations on which to build his adult life. It’s amazing to hear that children in his position will now have that ongoing psychological support thanks to Tom’s Trust.”
His parents paid for counselling sessions to help him cope, but they wished they had access to more support earlier on. Ben left school after a few months of 6th form, but found his passion as an apprentice mechanic. However, he still struggles with social relationships and is on medication to help manage his mental wellbeing.
The lack of psychological support for Ben throughout his childhood is a common problem faced by families dealing with serious illnesses. The stress of managing a chronic illness can have a significant impact on a child’s mental health, and parents often struggle to know how best to support their child. This is where Tom’s Trust can help. By providing psychological support for children and their families, they can help them manage the emotional impact of the illness and the stress of treatment. This support can help children like Ben feel more confident and better equipped to cope with the challenges they face.
Ben’s story is a reminder of the long-term impact of serious illnesses on children’s mental health and the importance of ongoing support. It also highlights the wider halo effect of such a diagnosis on a patient’s family. Tom’s Trust provides an invaluable service for families dealing with serious illnesses. By offering psychological support, they can help children like Ben manage the emotional impact of their illness and build the resilience they need to face the challenges ahead.
It’s essential that families have access to this kind of support from an early age, as it can make a significant difference to their future.
If you want to learn more about Tom’s Trust and how you can support their work, please visit their website at www.tomstrust.org.uk or follow them on social media @tomstrustuk.