Originally appeared in PosAbility Magazine April/May 2018
Mental health affects everyone, not just adults. We’ve put together some of the best resources for helping children with their mental health.
This year, one in four adults will have an experience with a mental illness, which could include anything from anxiety and depression to substance abuse or psychosis. As the years progress, we talk more openly about adult mental illness, and more adults open up and ask for help with their problems.
What about children? As children we really didn’t have the scope to understand that maybe the feelings, we were having weren’t normal. Maybe a child has symptoms of an anxiety disorder – long lasting and incessant worry and catastrophising, impaired concentration, edginess and difficulty sleeping – but doesn’t have the capacity to explain what these feelings are or understand that they are perhaps not normal.
According to statistics published by charity MQ Mental Health, three in four mental illnesses start in childhood before a person turns 18. Half of all mental health problems, excluding age-related progressive issues such as dementia – have started taking root in a person before they turn 15. In an average class of 30 school children, three will have a diagnosable mental health issue. Less than 30% of the research undertaken on mental health is focused on young people.
There are many resources online and in charities and hospitals which can help young children and their families when mental illness affects a younger member of the family. Here are some great places to try if you feel like you may need assistance with diagnosing or getting help with mental health in children.
The Child Adolescent Mental Health Services are an NHS-run service that assess and treat young people who may have emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties. These difficulties range from the treatment of depression and anxiety, to eating disorders and helping stop self-harm. CAMHS teams are located all over the UK, and are comprised of teams of nurses, therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists and support and social workers, to name a few. To get help from CAMHS, a referral must be made by a teacher, parent or GP (or a child, if they’re old enough).
To contact CAMHS, talk to your doctor, care worker, or a trusted professional like a teacher.
The UK’s leading charity committed to improving the wellbeing and mental health of young people. They aim to meet the needs of vulnerable children and young people, help promote good mental health in young people, and raise the voices of young people. Their website is a fantastic online resource which is easy to use by both parents and children and explains everything plainly and simply. Their website offers explanations of mental health as a concept and provides assistance in how to explain and place what young people with mental health issues may be feeling, as well as giving support and resources for finding urgent care for children in crisis.
Place2Be provides support in schools and expert training for pupils, families, teachers and school staff. Schools in the Place2Be scheme have a project manager, who can oversee services which can be provided in the school. These services include individual and group counselling, therapeutic support staff, and training and advice for staff which allows them to support students with mental or emotional health concerns. The charity also provides help to children whose parents are addicts, or who are affected by alcohol or drug misuse. All services are age appropriate and are carried out within schools, perhaps during lunchtime self-referral services or group work sessions.
The Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation and is bringing the issue of young people’s mental health to the political stage. They believe that the implications of poor mental health are wide-reaching and aim to promote positive mental health and intervention within the NHS. They wish to amplify the voices of mentally ill young people and change policy at a governmental level to improve the mental health of young people. They have an excellent website, which provides links to places where young people can get the advice on the specific kind of help, they require for their mental health needs.
Samaritans provides something that many other charities do not: someone to talk to. When you call Samaritans, you are connected to a volunteer who can offer help, advice, or simply someone to talk to. You do not have to be suicidal to call Samaritans: their staff are trained to deal with many different situations, including people with mental health issues, and they will not tell the caller what to do, but will provide reasonable, level-headed and carefully thought out advice for anyone. Calls to Samaritans don’t appear on your phone bill so it can be completely anonymous and can also be contacted through email if it’s too difficult or they feel too embarrassed to speak. The charity also offers support for deaf or hard of hearing people through their NGT and email services.
P: 116 123
Get your copy of PosAbility Magazine