SUFFERING children tug at the heart strings and mental health among young people still carries a social stigma.
But one mum wants to challenge this and raise awareness of a specialist unit that helps young sufferers across the Lothians.
Jackie Morison lives at Avon Drive, Linlithgow Bridge, with husband Graham (51), sons Stephen (16), Martin (15) and daughter Anna (12).
Martin has recently spent time at the Young People’s Unit, part of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, as he has been suffering from depression and anxiety.
Jackie (46) said: “Depression can affect a lot of people, especially during puberty but there are different triggers. For Martin it was his grandad who passed away in March.
‘‘We thought he was down but then realised there was something more happening.
“When we took him to the doctors, there were signs of self harm and psychosis and since then we have been trying to find the best balance of medication.
‘‘When he was at the unit, the staff could get a fuller picture of his condition so they could make a quicker diagnosis.”
Before Martin was admitted to the unit, Jackie didn’t even know it existed.
She added: “There are only 12 beds treating a range of medical conditions from eating disorders to psychosis.
‘‘It covers a large area - some of the kids there were from Fife.
“The staff are lovely and it’s great that it’s there but it’s poorly funded and mental health is something that no-one wants to talk about. Not all of the young people have happy stories.”
The Edinburgh unit was set up for adolescents aged 11-18 a decade ago, and some stay for up to seven months. Because of this, Jackie wants to fund-raise so the kids can feel more at home there.
She said: “It’s a lovely ward but a bit dated.
‘‘I’d like to make it more family friendly. The rooms have just the bare minimum, they have games but pieces are missing and they can’t afford to replace things, like the PS3. It can be a long day for the kids and we want to make it more bearable and fun.
“These are great kids but something has happened to them, and this is the only place they have.”
Jackie has given up her job as a registered childminder to look after Martin as he takes time out of school and, since returning home on Monday, he is enjoying looking after seven-week-old Lhasa Apso Joey, the newest member of the family.
To raise funds for the YPU, Jackie is organising a sponsored 48-mile cycle to Edinburgh and back via the canal towpath on August 18 and 15 people have already signed up.
She added: “Martin may not have to go back to the YPU but there are others there who will benefit, and it would be lovely to give something back to the kids.”