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Sophie's story

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Lot's of children hear voices and have imaginary friends. But what do you do as a parent when they start to affect your child and their behaviour? And who do you turn to? Sophie's mum shares her experience.

At first we thought it was a passing childhood phase. Lots of children have imaginary friends, we said. But as Sophie got older she became very withdrawn and started to argue with the voices, and sometimes it was scary to watch. 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 symptoms’. Hearing those words was devastating. It took the breath from us.

As you might imagine, we had a thousand unanswered questions and spent hours searching the Internet for information about childhood psychotic symptoms. On the one hand we were relieved to f nd out that for most children the symptoms pass without lasting effect – but on the other, terriffied to discover that in some cases it can lead to self-harm, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia or even suicide.

Perhaps most frustrating of all was that we simply couldn’t find out what causes it or why some children get better when others don’t. Or how, as parents, we can do our best to help Sophie grow into a healthy adult.

This is why research into young people's mental health is so desperately needed. To find out more about the causes of Sophie's psychosis. And to discover or develop new treatments and therapies that will change – and perhaps even save – countless lives like our Sophie’s.

This is why MQ need your help. Join them today and call on the government to prioritise research into young people's mental health. Take action now.

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