Although the Coborn in east London works at the ‘extreme end’ of mental health, its services are increasingly in demand

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“Our child is articulate, funny, clever, musical. But she’s unrecognisable to us here today,” says Sally, with pain in her voice as she talks about her 15-year-old daughter Ruth. “We’re worried that all that potential – for Ruth to live a happy life – could go unused,” adds her husband, Bill.

The couple are talking after a tense, fraught and frustratingly unproductive session of family therapy with their daughter and therapist Frank Aust at Ruth’s temporary home, the Coborn Centre for Adolescent Mental Health in Newham, east London. During the hour-long meeting Ruth, withdrawn and sometimes angry, avoided her parents’ gaze, did not embrace or even touch them and at one point had to be persuaded not to storm out.

These are young people who are suffering with a mental health disorder that’s bringing them immense distress

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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".

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