Sometimes our daughter, Sophie, hears voices.
At first we thought it was a passing childhood phase. Many children have the same experience. But as she got older she became very withdrawn and started to argue with the voices. That’s when we knew it was time to get help.
Our doctor sent us to a child psychologist, who described what Sophie was experiencing as ‘psychotic episodes’. We had a thousand unanswered questions. We knew so little about the condition. And spent hours searching the internet for information.
We were relieved to find out that for most children the symptoms pass without lasting effect. But we were also scared to discover that in some cases it can lead to anxiety, depression, schizophrenia or even self-harm and suicide.
Perhaps most frustrating of all was that we simply couldn’t find out what causes psychosis. Why some children get better when others don’t. Or what we as parents could do to help.
So it was a huge relief for us to discover that MQ’s teams of researchers are starting to look at mental illness, in the same way that other charities investigate cancer and other medical conditions.
We were really excited to hear that one of MQ’s research projects, led by Dr Helen Fisher, is investigating what triggers childhood psychosis.
The research is exploring ways to limit, or even prevent, the long-term mental health damage psychosis can cause. Which means, in the future, children like my Sophie will have a fighting chance of beating mental illness, and thousands of others might never develop a serious condition at all.
Yet MQ is not only bringing hope to children like Sophie. Their teams of scientists and academics have big ambitions to find the answers that so many people are crying out for, across a range of mental health conditions.
That brings back hope for me, my family, and all of those who've been affected by mental health.
Last updated: 18 June 2016