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The Whole Child

Tradition has always kept mental and physical care separate - separate specialisms, separate wards, split between hospitals miles apart. There is an urgent need for a new type of care: care which brings mental and physical health together and researches the links between the mind and the body.

At Cambridge Children’s Hospital we’re going to turn healthcare as we know it on its head. We’ll bring physical and mental expertise from all disciplines together under one roof. Our staff will be dual trained in mental and physical healthcare, giving them the skills and support they need to treat everything a child may be going through — whether that’s visible or not.

Jasmin doing a backbend in her 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

Rather than moving a child to get them the help they require, we’re going to bring the right support to each young person who enters the hospital. It will make their experience smoother and ensure they can access both mental and physical health care 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.

This holistic approach will give us greater opportunities to diagnose behavioural or cognitive issues earlier, which can increase a child’s well-being and dramatically improve their recovery.

Jasmine and family A teenage girl holding a guinea pig
Jasmine and family
Jasmine at home.
A teenage girl holding a guinea pig
And her favourite place, the garden.

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. This will increase our ability to proactively tackle conditions and prevent damage, which could be easily be missed during a step-by-step approach.

By looking at a young person’s mental and physical health simultaneously, we’ll help countless children get back up on their feet.

Find out more about our cutting-edge research here.

Read Jasmine's story here.