Healthy and Slim

Perfect Body

The importance of mental health support during civil claims

Zahra Awaiz-Bilal, senior associate, Bolt Burdon Kemp

To mark mental health awareness week, HMi asked consultant psychiatrist and medico-legal expert Dr Nick Cooling and Zahra Awaiz-Bilal, senior associate in the Abuse team at lawyers Bolt Burdon Kemp, to take a look at the specific issues medical professionals need to be aware of when supporting a patient through a court case.

Having worked with survivors of child abuse for many years, we know that it can have a significant impact on their mental health. Many of our clients suffer from serious psychiatric injuries including anxiety, depression, adjustment disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, to name a few; and we know that child sexual abuse can also play a role in substance misuse, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.  These issues can hugely affect a person’s quality of life and day to day functioning as well as their ability to maintain interpersonal and professional relationships.

By the time our clients come to us, they are ready to move forward and address some of the burdens – self-blame, guilt, shame and embarrassment – they have carried throughout their lives.

What is a civil claim?

Where a person has suffered sexual abuse, which may have occurred when he or she was a child or more recently as an adult, that person is entitled to pursue a civil claim. Such a claim falls under the law of “personal injury” and can be brought directly against the perpetrator of the abuse and/or the organisation that employed them if the abuse occurred in the perpetrator’s professional capacity.

Examples of the latter include abuse by teachers, priests, Scout leaders, foster parents and many other roles of a similar nature.  In those cases, we can successfully hold the school, the church, the Scout Association or the local authority responsible under the

Read the rest