The mother of missing Marlborough woman Jessica Boyce says that mental health services failed her daughter in the weeks before her disappearance.
Boyce, 27, has not been seen since Tuesday, March 19. Her vehicle was found at Lake Chalice, in Mt Richmond Forest.
Kay Johnstone, Boyce's mother, told the Herald yesterday that she tried twice in February to have her daughter admitted to a mental health clinic in Blenheim. But both times the clinic turned her down.
"At the end of the day they failed her," Johnstone said.
Boyce had not formally been diagnosed with a condition, but Johnstone said she had been in "a really bad way" since a serious car accident two years earlier.
"After that her memory wasn't too good and she started self-medicating," Johnstone said.
"It got to the stage she didn't know who we were – her state of mind was just so bad."
Johnstone said her daughter would forget where she had parked her car, and had got lost while out walking in vineyards.
"We are talking about a person that it seemed as if she was suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia," she said
"On one occasion someone went up to her and was actually going to take her to the police station because she had been lost in the vineyard for hours and was a hysterical mess."
Johnstone said on doctor's advice, she tried to get Boyce admitted to Witherlea House, a mental health unit in Blenheim, on February 12.
"We went to see them and were there for a few hours talking to them, but they turned around and said at the end of the day they couldn't admit her because she wasn't self-harming – so they sent her home," she said.
"It was really upsetting for me, because Jess was in and out of reality, but they just turned us down.
"They gave her a couple of tablets and sent her home with me. But how was I supposed to keep a 27-year-old, that was lost in her own head, safe."
Johnstone said she took Boyce back to the unit on February 21, but again they refused to admit her.
"At the end of the day they failed her. She was in a really bad way and it was pretty scary. They failed us and especially Jess and now we don't even know where she is. She has vanished."
Johnstone said she had received an apology from the clinic since Boyce's disappearance.
"They asked if there is anything they can do, but I just said 'it is a bit late for that isn't it?'.
"When people take their children in and ask for some serious help, they should really take it quite seriously – especially when they have been sent through their doctor. They should have really done something," she said.
A Nelson Marlborough Health spokesperson said, "We understand that the family must be feeling very distressed and concerned and our thoughts are with them".
"For privacy reasons NMH are unable to comment on details regarding any individual or family.
"We are available to offer support services and we encourage people who need our health services to get in touch with us directly when they are able to, or go to their GP for the support they need.
"There is also support available for people who wish to talk to a trained counsellor at any time 24/7, by phoning or texting 1737."
Despite her mental state, Johnstone believes her daughter wasn't suicidal.
"Jess wasn't suicidal. She has either gone up to Lake Chalice and got lost, or someone has come and taken her," she said.
"She has never been missing like this. We always have mobile conversations or I would text her to make sure she is alright. This disappearance is serious.
"We are at a loss. We really don't know what we are dealing with."
Johnstone said she will never give up hope in finding her daughter.
"We will never give up hope in getting her home. We have got to a state now that we don't even care what condition she comes home in, we just want her home," she said,
"The first two weeks, if she is up at Lake Chalice, we were holding onto hope that she would walk out. But this is the third week now and I don't have too much high hopes for that.
"If she has been taken, I strongly believe she is being held against her will and I just hope she will be able to get in contact with us.
"We are just praying that someone out there has information so that we can bring her home."
The official police search for Boyce was suspended pending further information on March 28, but Johnstone said police had done a really good job.
"I know they have done the best they can and are following up on any leads. I won't say anything against the police as I really think they have done an amazing job," she said.
Police earlier said, while the search has been suspended, they were still receiving information about possible sightings of Boyce and her whereabouts and those lines of enquiry were being followed up as they came in.
"The files of missing people are never closed and further investigations are initiated when new information comes to hand," they said.
• If you have any information please contact Blenheim Police on 03 578 5279 or go to www.helpfindjess.org.