A "brilliant" student was found hanged in a park after no-one picked up her case when her psychiatrist went on long-term sick leave, an inquest in Gloucester has heard.

Eighteen-year-old A-level student Melissa Martin-Hughes was found hanged seven months after meeting with a psychiatrist. Yet she had only been to two appointments with the health professional before they went on long-term sick. She was seeking help to fight depression, a side effect of the drugs she was taking to combat severe acne.

The inquest heard that Melissa had battled with depression since she was 14. However, the seriousness of the situation came to the fore following an episode at Beachy Head in 2009, where she was found by police "crying and smelling of alcohol".

Her father, Donald Hughes, said that the family felt let down by the system due to both the long-term illness of the psychiatrist and the difficulty of the transition between children's and adult mental health services. He told the inquest: "After the incident at Beachy Head she underwent assessment locally and had some counselling sessions.

"Those sessions unfortunately stopped because of a psychiatrist being on long-term sick leave and also Melissa changed assessments because of becoming 18. As a family we do feel let down by the services in this respect."

The psychiatrist in question supported the family's view, and that of Gloucester coroner David Dooley, who said there had been a missed opportunity to help Melissa and that the case had been badly mishandled.

Posted by Robert Mair on 28/2/2012