Connect with us



Mia was just 10 years old when she and her family knew she needed mental health support. 

But their attempts to access help were met with delays and denials that lead to such a severe deterioration in her condition it nearly cost Mia her life.

“I wasn’t deemed sick enough, I was told it was fine and there was nothing wrong with me”, Mia explains. “I was telling them, ‘this is not normal’, and they didn’t listen.”

But Mia was struggling. Her mental health was worsening and would eventually reach crisis point.

“By the time I was 12 I was self-harming. I felt like some days I couldn’t cope with the day but I was still performing well academically and that, when you’re a kid in this country, that is how they mark your wellbeing.”

It was when Mia turned 15 that help eventually came but only after she suffered a breakdown. She was arrested for false imprisonment and criminal damage after an attack on her teacher, and eventually admitted to a psychiatric unit.

Mia believes earlier intervention would have prevented her deterioration into crisis.

More on Health


“I would have killed myself. I would have. Mental health care is lifesaving, just as lifesaving as cardiac care, just as lifesaving as diabetes care. You cannot live a healthy, happy life if you are mentally unwell, without support.”

Mia’s story about her struggle to access the right mental health care at the right time exposes a system in crisis. Children and young adults across the country are being forced to endure long waits for specialist care and demand continues to grow.

NHS England estimates a quarter of all 17 to 19-year-olds now have a probable mental health disorder compared to one in 10 just six years ago.

David Barker and his team at Youth Talk offer free confidential counselling for 13 to 25-year-olds.

But they are overrun with record numbers of children and young people in need of help.

The charity has doubled its capacity – but even this is not enough.

Mr Barker told Sky News: “Before the pandemic there was a crisis of young people struggling with their mental health, the pandemic has compounded all of that, hugely, and as a result of that we’re seeing a long tail of the COVID pandemic in terms of mental health and particularly young people.”

Community health services are also struggling. A survey of NHS Providers found that children are now waiting an average of 91 weeks for an autism spectrum disorder assessment and between 72 and 207 weeks for an ADHD assessment.

Read more:
Seasonal affective disorder – or SAD – isn’t just ‘winter blues’
Student mental health problems almost tripled in recent years – study

Jenna Hughes speaks to Sky News
Jenna Hughes speaks to Sky News

Jenna Hughes had to wait three years for a diagnosis for her eldest child Amelia.

Her youngest, Imogen, has already been waiting for a year. Caring for Amelia and Imogen without any extra help is having an impact on everyone in the family.

“I’ve struggled with my mental health,” Jenna says. “Because of the level of care my children need. That’s hard on my family. The NHS is overrun but it puts so much pressure on families, and strain and stress.”

Demand is only expected to increase.

And if there is no urgent action, healthcare providers like the Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust predict that by next year their community waiting lists for children and young people will have more than doubled since the pandemic.

Its chief executive Elliot Howard-Jones said the biggest challenge for his trust in responding to the growing crisis was finding the right staff.

“It’s absolutely not where we want to be, we want to have much shorter waiting times for children, it significantly affects their life chances and their educational attainment if we don’t see them quickly.

“The biggest challenge in terms of community services is not the vision for what we want to do which is clearly to support people at home and to help children develop as best as they can, it’s getting the staff and growing the service quickly enough to be able to respond.”

Mia is 21 now. She is in the final year of a wild animal biology degree at the Royal Veterinary College after passing her A levels with top grades.

But the outcome could have been very different and for the many thousands of children still struggling it will be unless the crisis in children’s mental health is addressed urgently.

Continue Reading


UK weather: New warnings issued as 1,500 properties still without power




UK weather: New warnings issued as 1,500 properties still without power

Around 1,500 homes and businesses are still without power after heavy snow caused major power cuts in Cumbria.

It came as much of the country was hit by cold and wet conditions over the weekend, including a low of -12.5C recorded in northern Scotland overnight.

Freezing conditions are forecast to continue on Monday and the Met Office has issued new yellow weather warnings for snow, ice and rain.

Cumbria was one of the worst affected regions over the weekend, with up to 30cm of snow falling in places.

Officials declared a major incident in the county on Saturday and advised people not to travel unless necessary.

Weather latest: Town ‘feels like ski resort’

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Cumbria residents seek refuge in church

Dozens of motorists in the Lake District were forced to abandon their cars overnight. Many were forced to seek refuge in local community centres, primary schools and a church.

Electricity North West said its engineers had been “battling treacherous conditions” throughout the weekend and were still working on restoring supplies on Sunday evening.

Another 7,500 homes and businesses have been reconnected after earlier being hit by power cuts.

Check the five-day forecast for your area

Met Office weather warnings for 04/12/2023. Pic: Met Office screenshot
Weather warnings for Monday. Pic: Met Office.

The weather also caused disruption to travel, including at East Midlands Airport, which was forced to temporarily close its runway on Sunday.

It came after some flights were cancelled at Glasgow Airport and London Stansted Airport on Saturday.

Read more from Sky News:
COVID inquiry about ‘scapegoating’, Johnson’s sister says
Woman seen being carried into car is found safe
Pentagon ‘aware of reports’ US warship attacked in Red Sea

The Met Office’s new weather warnings include alerts for ice across much of northern England and parts of the Midlands, as well as snow for higher areas of Wales and the Peak District.

The weather agency said there was a risk that snow will lead to major travel disruption and there could be “accumulations of 2cm to 5cm on some roads above around 150m, and perhaps 10cm to 15cm on roads above around 350m”.

The warning runs from Sunday evening until 12pm on Monday.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Weather causing chaos in Cumbria

The Met Office also issued a yellow weather warning for rain across parts of southern Wales and southwest England, with the alert due to come into force from midnight and run until 6pm on Monday.

Forecasters said there was a risk of flooding to some homes and businesses, as well as potential disruption to train and bus services.

The RAC warned northern parts of the country were facing an “ice rink on Monday as snow refreezes overnight” and advised motorists to take care.

Spokesperson Simon Williams said: “We’re expecting some very treacherous icy conditions in northern parts, so those who have to drive should exercise great caution.

“If it’s possible to delay or even abandon journeys that may well be the best option.”

However, Met Office meteorologist Tom Morgan said the weather would likely become milder later in the week.

He added: “So there is an end in sight to the wintry weather.”

Continue Reading


Rishi Sunak suggests more tax cuts are on the way – but refuses to commit to triple lock manifesto pledge




Rishi Sunak suggests more tax cuts are on the way - but refuses to commit to triple lock manifesto pledge

Rishi Sunak has suggested more tax cuts are on the way because the economy has “turned a corner”.

The prime minister told reporters that while he would not comment on specifics, trimming taxes was “the direction of travel from this government”.

But it came as he refused to say if the pensions triple lock would be in the next Conservative Party manifesto – despite Downing Street insisting in September that it was “committed” to the policy.

Mr Sunak’s comments echo similar remarks by his ministers in recent weeks.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt also said last month that the economy had “turned a corner” just before he unveiled a cut to National Insurance in the Autumn Statement.

However, four million people could also end up paying higher taxes if their wages rise after the government decided to continue the freeze on tax thresholds.

Reports suggest the Conservatives are considering additional cuts in 2024 as the party tries to woo voters and reduce Labour’s 20-point lead in opinion polls ahead of the next general election, which must take place by January 28 2025.

Cuts to stamp duty and inheritance tax are among the options reportedly being looked at by ministers.

When asked about the two policies, Mr Sunak said: “I would never comment on specific taxes. But what I will just say, though, is we have turned a corner.

“We have got inflation down, as I said we would, we have grown the economy and we are now focused on controlling spending and controlling welfare so we can cut taxes. So when we can do more, we will.”

He added: “We want to grow the economy, we want to reward people’s hard work and aspirations and cut their taxes responsibly. That is the direction of travel from this government.

“If you want controlled public spending, controlled welfare and your taxes cut, then vote Conservative.”

Read more from Sky News:
Starmer’s praise of Margaret Thatcher sparks party backlash
Fury as COP28 head questions ‘science’ of cutting fossil fuels
Abu Dhabi fund moves to take control of Daily Telegraph

Mr Sunak was unable to make similar promises about the triple lock, which ensures the state pension must rise every April by whichever is highest out of average earnings, inflation or 2.5%.

The policy has come under fire in recent months by critics who claim it has become too expensive and gives the government less financial “headroom” to deal with economic shocks.

Some senior Tories have called for it to be scrapped and Labour has refused to guarantee the triple lock will remain in place if it wins the next election.

While the government continued with the policy in its recent Autumn Statement, ensuring the state pension will rise by 8.5% in April 2024 to £221.20 a week, Mr Sunak refused to be drawn when asked directly if it would be in the next Tory manifesto.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Analysis: Autumn Statement 2023

Speaking to journalists as he flew between the UK and Dubai for the COP28 summit, he replied: “[I’m] definitely not going to start writing the manifesto on the plane, as fun as that would be.”

Mr Sunak acknowledged there had been “some scepticism” about if policy was going to form part of the Autumn Statement, but said its inclusion had been “a signal of our commitment to look after our pensioners who have put a lot into our country”.

Continue Reading


Reindeer block dual carriageway in Suffolk




Reindeer block dual carriageway in Suffolk

A major road was closed by police in both directions after a “large number” of reindeer wandered in front of traffic.

Police were called to the scene, on the A11 near Barton Mills in Suffolk, at around 3.20pm on Sunday.

National Highways East said no traffic had been able to pass due to the “large number” of the animals on the road and added that police had been “trying to catch them”.

The reindeer eventually left the road at around 5.20pm and it was reopened shortly afterwards, officials said.

In an update on X, formerly Twitter, National Highways East confirmed police closed the A11 “in both directions between A1134 and A1101”.

There are not thought to be any wild reindeer in England and it is unclear where the animals came from.

Continue Reading