Mental health and young people: Is there a lack of support?

CentreForum, the independent think-tank, published a report which revealed that nearly a quarter of children and teenagers on average are turned away by mental health services after being referred by their GP’s, teachers, or others.

CentreForum found that this was due to services having ‘high thresholds’ for access to their services, revealed after analysis of the service’s eligibility criteria.

In the report, CentreForum stated that these high thresholds for treatment eligibility prevent one of the most effective forms of mental health treatment for young people- early intervention.

It was also found that young people were waiting for prolonged periods of time to access treatment with the average of the longest waiting times being almost 10 months between the first GP/school referral and the beginning of their treatment. This, along with a lack of funding for mental health services in certain areas of the UK shows a worrying escalation in the support offered to young people suffering from mental illness.

This report has been released in the same week that a UK bereavement charity pushed for a full investigation by the Government into the way deaths of young people in mental health units are recorded. An inquest suggested that nine young people had died within inpatient mental health facilities since 2010.

This only solidifies that there is a considerable lack of support for young people suffering from mental illness.

Early intervention is key.

Depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses suffered by children and teenagers will often be present at a young age. Certain behavior such as a change in sleeping patterns, irritability, loss of interest in certain activities, and withdrawal from socialisation can often be clear indications of a young person who is carrying the black dog. Some people may question whether this is just the behaviour of a typical teenager. But this behaviour will often extend to prolonged periods of time with little to no change in mood.

This will often affect a young person’s school or college life, resulting in low grades, bad behaviour, or low attendance. These warning signs should be a clear indication that further investigation is needed.

Intervening as soon as a problem is spotted can allow schools to offer the right support and advice for the affected young person as soon as possible. All too often, a young person who has suffered from mental illness will have gone throughout their school life with little to no mental wellbeing support. I know of quite a few young adults who suffer from depression or anxiety and have done from a young age, yet never had anyone listen to their issues or offer support which could have allowed them to receive the treatment they needed much earlier.

Is it a lack of funding? Or a higher demand?

The reality is that figures show funding levels for NHS mental health care in England have dropped by 2 percent in recent years. This lack of funding leads to long waiting lists and less accessibility to the services, which are desperately needed to prevent the potential suicide and self-harm of young people. It also puts a strain on charities that rely solely on donations to provide young people support such as Samaritans and Child Line.

There is also a higher demand for these services due to the rise in mental illness in young people. Statistics by YoungMinds.org.uk show that young people between the ages of 15 to 16 with depression doubled between the 1980s and the 2000s, showing there is a constant increase in the number of young people being diagnosed with mental health issues. This could be due to a lack of knowledge in previous years or maybe just the way our society has changed its views on mental health. Regardless of what has caused this higher demand for services, these resources need to be available to prevent an increase in suicide levels in adulthood as well as self-harm in young people, which is believed to affect 13 percent of children and teenagers between the ages of 11 to 16.

We shouldn’t have to lose a young person due to a lack of support and funding for life-saving services.

If you have been affected by the topics discussed in this post, please contact the following organisations for support:

Mind 

Young Minds 

Parents or teachers in Bedfordshire.

Georgia OX

 

5 Things I’d Tell My Teenage-Self

Growing up is never easy.

It’s commonplace to find your teenage years engulfed by angst and raging hormones.

Most people will remember those years fondly as they mature into relatively civilised adults. And some may do all they can to avoid reminiscing of such times. But you’ll almost certainly be who you are today thanks to your time as a teen.

It moulds you into who you are today. Every experience, good or bad, will have taught you a valuable lesson in life. And for that, we should always be grateful even if we wouldn’t necessarily choose to go back and do it all again.

As a 21-year-old, I understand I still have a lot more to learn in life.

But I also think I’ve changed a great deal since my years as an angry, moody and undoubtedly irritating teen.

There are a lot of things I feel I would have benefited from if someone had sat me down and told me about them way back when. And hopefully, a lot of you will be able to relate to it when you think back to your younger selves.

So, here you go, 5 things I’d tell my past self if I knew what I’ve learnt today.

Stand up for yourself.

Sometimes you can be a bit of a pushover. Remember, only you have the power to allow other people to belittle you. If you speak up and let your voice be heard, people will understand you mean business!

That doesn’t mean you have to be rude or obnoxious, though. Just don’t allow other people to speak down to you or make you feel less of a person than you are. Bullies prey on the venerable. Don’t give them the opportunity to upset you or stop you foing the things you love.

Be more confident!

Put your name down for school council! Sign up for drama classes! Start up a band!

Do all the things you are worried you’ll be judged for because other people’s opinion of you is none of your business.

At the end of the day, the only emotion you’ll feel will be regret for the missed opportunities you had a school. So what if people talk. Let them talk all. The only thing that matters is that you are happy and doing all the things you want to do!

STOP dyeing your hair black!

No seriously stop. I get you are going through the ‘emo’ stage and you think it’s really alternative and edgy, but you just look ill. The thick black eyeliner is also a no go zone. You look like you haven’t slept. Even My Chemical Romance would ask if you were OK.

Punky Fish isn’t the only shop in the world!

Let’s be honest. It’s not even real punk fashion. That furry purple jumper look’s like you’ve just skinned the Cookie Monster’s girlfriend. Also, Beetle Juice wants’ he’s stripy black and white trousers back. Just sayin’

Love yourself.

Ok, so I’ve insulted your fashion sense and your ‘emo’ inspired makeup/hair, but I’m telling you right now, if you learn one thing from high school, learn to love yourself.

Popularity and a big pair of knockers will not matter one iota in 5 years time. Enjoy every aspect of your personality. Understand that the only person who can make you feel comfortable in yourself is you. Embrace the awkward phase and the alternative clothing because if you want to dress outside the box, you’ve got to rock it with confidence.

Understand that people like you because of who you are and not who you are trying to be. The only person you want to impress is yourself.

So, to all the awkward, angst-ridden teens out there, understand there is no one else in the world quite like you. You are unique and amazing in every single way.

And I promise you, even though it feels like you don’t know who you are right now, you are not lost. You are just searching for your true self. And one day it will all make sense, the ups, the downs, the fights and the tears. They don’t last forever. One day you’ll see just how fantastic you really are.

G XO