Mental health: Families travel hundreds of miles for suitable care

Parents are sending their children hundreds of miles to get suitable treatment for mental health issues, ITV News has been told.

Following a freedom of information request, it was found more than half of mental health trusts in England have cut the number of beds for patients in crisis.

It has led to one couple, Stephen and Julia Hollings, having to travel 400 miles from their home to see their teenage daughter - who is being treated in a specialist eating disorder unit in Scotland.

They told ITV News it took a month to find a spare hospital bed, despite looking "anywhere in England or Wales."

He said: "From the moment she's first admitted - and she's in there for about a month - we're looking every day, every day, and the hospital is, every day - for a bed in an eating disorder unit anywhere in England or Wales."

Julia added: "We've pestered, written, cajoled, demanded and everything we can possibly can do - to get what we've been told she needed, which is one-on-one therapy to help her resolve the underlying issues.

"We've just hit 'no, no, no, no' all the way through".

Their breakthrough came when a bed became available in Glasgow.

Stephen and Julia Hollings look at images of their daughter. Credit: ITV News

Despite the hospital being situated several hundred miles away, Stephen said they were "delighted she would finally get the care and the support" she needed.

Holding back the tears, he recalled: "When she collapsed in Julia's arms, we would take anything, anywhere because you do."

However the return journey, they admit, does take its toll.

"It's a wrench for us, and it's very much a wrench for her because she feels that we're leaving her again", Julia added.

Julia Hollings. Credit: ITV News

"I don't think we've ever managed to do the separation without a few tears, because it's going to be at least another two weeks before you see her again."

But their desperation is tempered by the knowledge they are only "one of many".

Stephen said: "What you're getting a slight insight into - this is happening all over the country with hundreds of families.

"That's the real tragedy."

Mark Austin shared his struggle to get proper care for his daughter when she had anorexia, prompting a huge response from our viewers.