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The whole child

Bringing mental and physical health together

Tradition has always kept mental and physical care separate. Siloed off by specialisms, disconnected across wards, split between hospitals miles apart. And yet for us the two couldn’t be more connected.

Jasmine playing with her dog in the garden
An approach to combine mental and physical healthcare has transformed the life of 12-year-old Jasmine who had been confined to a wheelchair for three years

There is an urgent need for a new type of care. Care which researches the links between the mind and the body. Which remove silos. Which pioneers integration across mental and physical health.

Children need psychological and physical care. Not one or the other. Not one before the other.

At Cambridge Children’s we’ll dual train staff in mental and physical healthcare. We’ll use the latest technology and data. And we’ll bring physical and mental expertise from all disciplines together under one roof, working in unison to organise treatment that supports everything a child may be going through — whether that’s visible or not.

The doctor will come to you

We’re going to turn healthcare as we know it on its head.

Rather than moving the child to get the help they require, we’re going to bring the support they need to them. It will make their experience smoother and ensure they can access both mental and physical support from one place, without travelling between buildings and, quite often, hospitals. For conditions like epilepsy, where sudden anxiety can easily trigger a seizure, this streamlined approach can have a massive impact, letting young people focus on how to move forward instead of where to go next.

To find out more about our new hospital

Visit our hospital page

Dual trained staff

Our staff will all be dual trained in mental and physical health conditions, given them the skills and support they need to care for each young person who enters the hospital.

This holistic approach means that we’ll be able to deliver informed physiological and psychological

bedside care and gives us greater opportunity to diagnose behavioural or cognitive issues earlier.

Conclusions which can increase a child’s well-being and dramatically improve their recovery.

The missing link

Is there a link between inflammation and depression? Does diabetes cause stress? Can bipolar disorder affect our cardiovascular system?

While these conditions have commonly been treated separately, we understand the urgent need to continually understand and question their connections. By researching links between the psychological and the physical, we’ll be able to see every possible direction a diagnosis may take. Indeed, this greater foresight will give us more ability to proactively tackle conditions and prevent damage, which may easily be missed during a step-by-step approach.

To find out more about our cutting-edge research visit the Cambridge Children's Hospital research section.

We’ll help countless children get back up on their feet

By looking at a young person’s mental and physical health simultaneously, children like Jasmine will have more chances to bounce back quicker.

Jasmin gives high five to her dog in a garden
Jasmine gives high fives to her dog

Bright, cheerful and athletic, Jasmine was well on her way to becoming an excellent gymnast when she injured her knee falling from a trampoline. While initially it seemed her recovery would be quick, over the following weeks the pain only worsened and other symptoms gradually appeared. The skin on her legs became overly sensitive and she had severe shooting pains whenever she put weight on her feet.

She attended the pain clinic at her local hospital, which attempted to get full mobility back without success. Instead, Jasmine was confined to a wheelchair, in which, unable to play with her friends like she always had, she became anxious, withdrawn and stopped attending school.

Jasmine is holding a guinea pig in her hands Jasmin with her family posing outside of their house
Jasmine is holding a guinea pig in her hands
Jasmine at home in her favourite place, the garden.
Jasmin with her family posing outside of their house

Jasmine started to believe the world was against her. She stopped eating, was scared to go to sleep or have a shower, and even began to believe her food was being contaminated. We were just at a loss with what to do.

Jasmine’s dad, Matthew

It was at this point that her weight dangerously dropped, and she was referred to a specialist team that treat children with complex psychological illnesses. There, she was diagnosed with Conversion Disorder, a condition which made just thinking or speaking about pain make it hurt more.

Through rounds of play therapy, slowly Jasmine became more open to talking about her illness and the staff noticed she was putting more weight on her feet without pain. It gave them the confidence to try weight bearing again and, although scared at first, Jasmine found she could do it.

I think a place like this which helps with both physical and mental health will be a really, really good thing for children like me in the future.

Jasmine

From these first steps, soon enough she was able to leave her wheelchair in the car. 12 weeks on, she was landing cartwheels again. And within the year, she was back with her friends at the gymnastics club.

Jasmin doing a backbend in her garden

What started as an initial pain in her knees had built itself up to the point where Jasmine’s whole body was in crisis. Both physically and mentally.

It’s just one story which shows the urgent need to understand how a physical condition can affect a child’s mind, and vice versa. A story which demonstrates the urgent need for care which pioneers integration between all diseases.

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A boy using technology in a hospital bed

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