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The Children’s Commissioner’s Help at Hand service offers advice and assistance to children in care, children working with social services, children living away from home, and care leavers. Many of the children Help at Hand assists are experiencing difficulties with their mental health.

These are 2 recent examples of children Help at Hand have been trying to assist recently. They are detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act while they wait for a suitable community placement to be found.


Ray* is 12 and is detained in hospital. His medical team are clear that this is not the best place for him and he would do much better in a therapeutic placement in the community.

Ray has been in a psychiatric intensive care unit for over a year, these types of units are only meant to be used for a few weeks as they cannot offer long term care. Ray’s struggles with being confined in this setting are likely causing difficulties in his behaviour that often lead him being secluded in a bare room on his own.

At first children’s services said they thought he was best in hospital but are now looking for a community place for him. Help at Hand have tried hard to focus professionals minds on trying to find him somewhere suitable and the Children’s Commisioner has written to NHS England and the Local Authority to highlight Ray’s situation.


Leah* is 16 and is also detained in hospital. She has been working with an Independent Mental Health Advocate who contacted Help at Hand because, like Ray, Leah was being told by children’s services they would not look for a community placement for her.

Leah’s consultant psychiatrist, Leah and her family all wanted her to work towards moving to the community. Help at Hand made representations for Leah, and the Local Authority are now searching for an appropriate place for her – although they are concerned that this will take sometime as there is a shortage of places available and willing to care for children with complex needs.

If you are a child or family member of a child that needs Help at Hand, please call 0800 528 0731 or email [email protected]

*identifying details have been changed

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