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Mum who experienced PTSD after her son was stillborn says she was left to organise her own care

A woman from Cardiff who said she was left to organise her own mental health care after her baby was stillborn is calling on the Welsh Government to make mental health services more accessible.

Laura Williams' son Leo was stillborn in 2016. His death triggered a range of emotions which caused her mental health to spiral.

"Guilt, anger, sadness, hate, there was a lot of mixed emotions that I couldn't control," said Laura.

"It was too raw at the time for me to go to a group and say this is me, this is my story... so I was left to my own devices, I was at home, I couldn't go out, I was too anxious, I was having panic attacks."

When Laura began self harming, she knew she needed help. But when she visited a GP, she says she was handed a leaflet and advised to go home and call the number for the crisis team herself.

"I was back to the doctors, I was self-harming and my doctor goes, "Are you going to do that again?" and I said "yes". It was, "Here's the crisis team's leaflet; go home and ring them", said Laura.

Ms Williams said she had to wait around 8 months before receiving treatment.

As a result of her experience, she decided to submit a petition to the National Assembly, calling on the Welsh Government to make mental health services more accessible to those who need them.

"I want GPs to stop giving leaflets out and for them to do them on the patient's behalf. If they see they're not fit, they need help there and then, not eight months later."

Simon Jones, Head of Policy at Mind Cymru said, "Mental health crisis can be terrifying and people who are experiencing it often need immediate care support."

He added, "We believe a greater range of crisis care responses should be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, whatever the circumstances."

“We expect the Welsh Government and its partners to be putting plans in place to urgently address these recommendations and improve the lives of people living with mental health problems throughout Wales.”

The National Assembly Petitions Committee Chair says the way Ms Williams care was handled is both "distressing and unacceptable."

"The Petitions Committee has received evidence which indicates that services remain under resourced, that not enough is understood about mental health and that there is too much confusion around accessing the right services," said Janet Finch-Saunders AM, Chair of the Petitions Committee.

The Welsh Government said it will consider the committee's recommendations, but said it has already put more money into crisis care and is improving support for patients.

Laura begins treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder next month.

She hopes sharing her journey will go some way towards improving and speeding up support for others.