Written by Nicola Dalrymple
The mental health of young people is just as important as the mental health of adults. According to a survey carried out in England in 2017, one in eight 5-19 year olds were suffering from at least one mental health disorder. Tragically, suicide is the number one cause of death for both boys and girls in this age group. Strong foundations of good mental health in childhood has been proven to promote positive wellbeing and resilience later in life. Unfortunately, mental health disorders account for a large proportion of burden on the lives of young people today. While mental health issues are often detected later in life, most mental health disorders begin in adolescence.
Mental health disorders most common in young people
Just like adults, young people can experience a wide array of mental health problems. Some common disorders which effect young people include;
- Anorexia, Bulimia and other eating disturbances
- Bipolar Disorder
- Mania and Hypomania
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Common mental health problems and symptoms in young people
Often symptoms of poor mental health in young people are mood related. Children may report stress, anxiety, anger, worry, feeling down, fatigue and lack of concentration.
Many symptoms are a result of life events or circumstances. Events which often trigger such symptoms include abuse, grief and loss, parental separation/divorce, bullying, body image issues, exam stress, problems at school, poverty and homelessness, long term physical illness and sleep problems.
Promoting positive mental health in young people
There are things both young people and those around them can do to prevent potential mental health difficulties and promote wellbeing. Such tools include:
- Staying physically healthy through a balanced diet and regular exercise
- Free play
- Positive and cooperative relationships within the family
- Positive and cooperative relationships in school
- Getting involved in local activities and/or team sports
- Feeling loved, accepted, and trusted
- Having a sense of belonging
- Having the opportunity to learn and succeed
- Having support in dealing with change and other risk factors
What to do if you are worried about your mental health/your child’s mental health
For young people
Often it can feel like you just can’t get better. That you won’t get better. That there is no support. There is no motivation to feel good again. However feeling good is always worth the effort. You can get better. There is support. Simple changes in life can make a real difference and can step you closer towards positive wellbeing.
Simple steps towards positive mental health
- Believe in yourself
- Ask for help
- Take time to relax
- Talk to family and friends
If you are worried about your child’s mental health it is crucial you don’t ignore the signs. Don’t be hard on yourself and remember there are ways your child can get better.
Steps to take for parents
- Try to maintain a strong relationship with your child ensuring they know how much you love them
- Embrace your role as a parent knowing that you may have to make tough decisions
- Talk to your child and let them know why you are worried
- Listen to your child and try to understand how they are feeling
- Ask your child what they think would help
- Seek professional help if you think it is necessary (see more information below)
Intervention in young people’s mental health
The types of help available to young people suffering from mental health difficulties include the following
As discussed above, warm relationships with supportive parents can be vital to support the young person struggling with their mental wellbeing. Parents should be encouraged to listen, support, and offer time and care for their children. They should let them know they want them to get better and they are there to help.
Often young people’s mood and mental health difficulties will pass. However, if there are no signs of improvement or symptoms worsen it is best that professional help is sought. Schools may be able to offer support through a school nurse or educational psychologist. A GP is a useful resource to consult. Such support networks may refer your child to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Private support may also be an option with professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists.
Childhood is a time when roots are grounded and foundations are laid for the rest of the individual’s life. Don’t ignore mental health difficulties in children and adolescents’. Take time to offer support and seek professional help where necessary.
Contact us, The Blue Tree Clinic, for private help with mental health difficulties.