Criticism of child mental health services by Virgil Rhone’s parents

The parents of a 15-year-old transgender boy who was found dead in their home in Bicester last year have criticized mental health services for failing to recruit enough clinicians. Vanessa and Peter Rhone condemned the Oxfordshire Child and Youth Mental Health Service (CAMHS) during the inquest into their son Virgil’s death. The couple said Virgil’s mental health had been deteriorating, and this had contributed to the problem, which they described as “a lack of urgency.” CAMHS has stated that it is considering ways to improve its services following direction from the coroner.

Virgil had been under CAMHS care since 2019, and his death was recorded as a story, not a suicide, with no evidence to suggest intent. During the inquest, the Rhones said Virgil, who had also been diagnosed with autism, was “wonderful and artistic,” and “they just loved life.” Vanessa Rhone stated that they had called CAMHS when Virgil began refusing to go to school, but he ended up on a waiting list to see a clinical psychologist. Virgil had been assigned a counselor through CAMHS, but counseling was completed after six sessions, and his parents criticized the service for its “lack of continuity.”

The Rhones said the support Virgil received through the center led her to attend art classes and work on new projects. But they criticized CAMHS for not recruiting enough clinicians, with a waiting list of over nine months. The coroner issued a Regulation 28 report on CAMHS at the end of Virgil’s autopsy, recommending action to prevent further deaths. The Rhones have contacted Ms. Victoria Prentiss, Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, who is writing to the Ministry of Health to find out more about services for mental health for young people. They said they want to stop similar tragedies from happening to other families.

The Trust has extended its condolences to Virgil’s family and loved ones and is working to consider ways to improve the delivery of effective healthcare. The Rhones have expressed their hope that action will be taken to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future.

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