As a former health and social care lecturer, the shame I endured as a consequence of not recognising the cues of the anorexia that was killing my son was harrowing.

However, the constant mental pain and anguish of not being sufficiently aware to protect my son from the vicious psychological and physically disabling condition sparked a fire inside me - a fire of desire to help other parents and families do what I hadn't.

I pursued a journey of incessant learning, gaining specific qualifications along the way, including gaining accreditation as a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) trainer.

All of this information, knowledge and new skills I picked up on the way while working as a mental health network coordinator, served me well in the war against the eating disorder and the battle to retain my own good mental health.

Throughout this disturbing period, I was constantly alarmed at the suffering young people experienced due not only to the fragmented services but also as a consequence of the approach and attitude that so many professionals used.

My son was not only working to recover from anorexia but he also had to address a whole cocktail of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, OCD, body dysmorphia, aleximythia, frequent panic attacks as well as the physical effects anorexia had imposed.  

By chance, through a business channel, I met my friend Jane Hutton. Jane's son also had experience of complex mental health issues - and equally, she too was frustrated and concerned about the mental health services for children and young people.

We both despaired at the attacks on funding for young people's mental health services.

Yes, the nation was informed of extra millions being ploughed into the services but, we feel that money needs to be directed into the early intervention and prevention arena, and not necessarily to the mainstream services. There are a multitude of third sector organisations doing some exemplary work with young people.

Our children have been treated like generic cases from a classic text book.

Jane and I, as parents, have been treated as if our thoughts, opinions and indeed, experiences did not count. Indeed, I am under no illusion that there are probably many other parents out there feeling the same.

But our children are individuals, with individual experiences who probably would have benefited from better outcomes had they had the opportunity to explore options outside of the norm.

Jane and I decided to fuse our energies and organise a conference to help create a positive change for young people in crisis.  Through various delivery methods, the conference will explore not only what is currently creating the avalanche in poor mental health of our young generation but also what alternatives to conventional treatment and therapy are available.

In this period where constraints on resources increase 'discriminatory practice' (my opinion) time is now to elevate self-care and lived experience. Of course, to do this we need to be armed with appropriate knowledge and information.  It is hoped that this conference will provide parents, carers and professionals with the insight to achieve what is right for our young.     

The conference – Young Minds in Crisis - will take place at Plymouth School of Creative Arts on Saturday September 30 2017.