Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Young autistic girl dies in inpatient unit after being “failed by mental health system”, family says

A 20-year-old autistic girl, Lauren Bridges, has died in an inpatient unit after being continuously “failed by the mental health system,” according to her family.

Lauren was first admitted to a CAHMS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) psychiatric unit voluntarily at the age of 17 after she reached crisis point. Then, in June last year, she was moved to a different hospital in Manchester, six hours away from her family home.

Lauren’s mother, Lindsey Bridges, says this move led to a rapid decline in Lauren’s mental health. “She suffered terribly from separation anxiety and hated being so far away from me. It broke her and our little family,” Lindsey said.

Lindsey is campaigning for the introduction of a new law which would protect people like Lauren

With more than 2,000 people with a learning disability and/or autism currently locked in inpatient units, Lindsey is now campaigning for a law in Lauren’s name that would ensure vulnerable people are not left in unsuitable hospital settings.

The law would make it illegal for children and adults with autism to be detained under the Mental Health Act or sent to hospitals far away from home. 

It would also see that suitable care and treatment packages are readily available in the community for the most vulnerable young people and adults in our society.

“Early intervention is vital”

Lindsey hopes these measures will help to ensure people with learning disabilities/or and autism get the right support at the right time. 

In a blog post, Lindsey wrote: “There should be more support available for our children and young adults in the community so that hospitalisation can be avoided. Early intervention is vital to avoid situations where your child has to be admitted to hospital. If there was more support available when we first asked for it when Lauren was 14, I believe things would never have got so bad.

“Being an inpatient has robbed me of my daughter, my son of his sister, my parents of their granddaughter and most importantly it has taken away Lauren’s life.”

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