A Letter to my Son– a carer’s perspective on community care in the 21st century

The book explores the reality behind the aspiration of a community care route to recovery for serious mental illness. It documents one family’s experience in supporting their son through a 10-year struggle with paranoid schizophrenia.

It took me a while to write this book – 6 years after our son’s death – but I persevered in the hope that it could help others who find themselves trying to get to grips with the UK mental health system, and also mental health professionals who find their best efforts thwarted by lack of resources and/or policy issues. A professor of mental health and a GP have both recommended the book as useful reading in these respects.

The book explains how difficult it is, in the early stages, to recognise that an illness is developing, and knowing what to do about it – and that this is compounded by the fact that the sufferer often does not want to admit to the illness, even to themself; also how, with a young adult, data protection law can significantly restrict parental influence on intervening; and how the involvement of the significant carer in the sectioning process under the mental health acts can introduce conflict between parent and child.

It highlights some weaknesses in how our mental health system seeks to provide a community care route to recovery – too little supported housing, excessively high caseloads for staff, lack of 24/7 cover, ineffective co-ordination and continuity across agencies to address the individual’s needs, and reliance on the police sometimes as the last resort.

It provides much evidence of the impact of under-investment in mental health, when compared with physical health, even though the two are so inter-dependent; also demonstrates that the mechanisms for agreeing funding for different intervention options can lead to less than optimum outcomes – both in clinical and financial terms.

If you would like to buy the book, its available as hard copy or ebook and can be purchased from