St Albans mum angry after man approaches Asperger’s Syndrome son in children-only waiting room

CAMHS St Albans clinic

CAMHS St Albans clinic - Credit: Archant

An angry St Albans mum has hit out at health chiefs after her son, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, was approached by a man in a children’s-only waiting room at a mental health clinic.

The woman, Caroline, who does not want her surname published, said her 15-year-old son had an appointment with a psychologist at the specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) unit, in Waverley Road, near the city’s hospital on Monday, March 14.

The teen first saw the psychologist four weeks ago as he had become so upset and nervous about attending school that “he was soaked with sweat, he was so anxious”.

Since attending Nicholas Breakspear School he has been “targeted and bullied” by some other pupils, according to Caroline, who has multiple sclerosis.

Although the worried mum acknowledged that current headteacher, Declan Linnane, had attempted to rectify the situation since recently taking up the leadership role, she felt that the damage had already been done prior to him joining Nicholas Breakspear.

She explained that during the teenager’s initial years at school, “They never dealt with it properly – there was pushing and verbal abuse, from the first year he joined.”

Caroline said her boy was “that depressed that he has had to go on antidepressants. He retreated into himself. He stopped going to school four weeks ago.

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“The psychologist put him on tablets, and it has taken him over four weeks to get out of bed – he felt safe there.”

The teen’s one main goal in his life is to become a boxer – he is a huge fan of Watford’s Anthony Joshua, the Commonwealth, British and WBC international heavyweight champion.

But, despite his love of the sport, his mum struggles to get him to leave their house.

And last Monday was the final straw, when her ‘vulnerable’ son saw a psychologist at the CAMHS clinic.

Caroline explained: “He said he would like to talk with me separately, and [her son] was asked to go to the children’s waiting room, as the most we would take would be 20 minutes.”

When she left him there, there were initially other people with their children also in the room, but later on he was by himself.

She subsequently found out that her son was approached three times by a man believed to be in his 30s, who spoke with him, asked him for money, stood behind him at one stage, and threw a book over the table, before walking out.

Caroline said: “I rang CAMHS and spoke to the site manager. I told her what happened, and that my son had been approached by an adult.

“She said, ‘we deal with adult mental health as well’. She was very apologetic, but I said that wasn’t good enough.”

Caroline told her that as her son had previously suffered from bullying, he was ‘vulnerable’.

She added: “I thought he was safe out there. [But] there is no security.

“He could have taken my son. That is disgusting. I have complained to them, and I asked them what they are doing about it.

“No-one saw that man going in to that waiting room three times! We have to go back in four weeks, but he doesn’t want to go back there.

“He will be stressing about it every day as he doesn’t feel safe now. This incident has knocked him right back.”

A spokeswoman for the Herts Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust said it was “aware of the unfortunate events that took place and raised it as an incident for investigation at the time.

“We have apologised to the family and are considering ways to ensure this sort of situation does not happen again.

“The safety and care of our service users remains our top priority and we will therefore make sure we take learnings out of this and a senior service line lead will be meeting with the family shortly to discuss this further.”