Were you aware that 04 – 10/02/2019 was Children’s Mental Health Week? It was launched in 2015 to emphasise the importance of mental health for children & young people. Having written previous articles addressing potential mental health issues affecting fatherhood & pregnancy loss, it is time to focus on children & young people.
Place2Be provides “emotional and therapeutic services in primary and secondary schools, building children’s resilience through talking, creative work and play … reaching a total school population of 142,000 pupils, helping them to cope with wide-ranging and often complex social issues including bullying, bereavement, domestic violence, family breakdown, neglect, trauma”. Place2Be 2019
Their 2019 motto is: “Healthy: Inside and Out” & refers to the benefits of physical as well as good mental health being essential for optimal health. Children & young people’s mental health can be improved if they feel loved, valued, having the ability to learn & succeed. Making healthy food choices, being active & sleeping well at night can improve their physical health.
Place2Be’s research found that children who sleep for less than nine hours, which is recommended on a school night; reported concerns that may affect their school work i.e. 32% of 10-11 year olds & 22% of 13-15 year olds. Plus 56% of children reported they worried about something all the time.
Issues such as moving home or school, a family death, poverty, exam stress or a relationship breakdown of parents/carers can trigger mental health problems. Children & young people with chronic health conditions, a parent/carer with mental health, drug or alcohol issues or who may have been bullied or abused may face an increased risk.
The incidence of bullying has increased & can be targeted towards race, size, sexual orientation, religion, may involve physical or verbal abuse & more commonly cyber/internet. It may be continuous or a one-off incident. Children & young people may be left feeling afraid, isolated, angry, anxious or less confident.
Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, self-harm, the use of drugs, alcohol or eating disorders are most common in children & /young people.
Mental Health Foundation 2019
Mental Fills Counselling Store 2018 have produced the above information for parents & carers, which highlights numerous ways of nurturing a child or young person’s mental health.
A child or young person who is being bullied should be encouraged to talk to someone about it e.g. parent/carer, teacher, school nurse, GP or friend & if it is online, must be reported to the social media platform.
If a child or young person needs professional help, as a parent/carer you should talk to your health visitor, school nurse or GP. A referral to Children & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) can be made. They provide assessments, support & treatment e.g. counselling sessions, for behavioural, emotional & mental health issues via their multi-disciplinary team of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers & nurses.
Medication may also be helpful, however it will be only be prescribed if necessary.
We know that CAMHS are over stretched, numerous referrals are not accepted, there are long waits for treatment & children & young people may be discharged before being assessed.
In 2017 Transforming Children & Young People’s Mental Health Provision was published by the government published. It promised increased funding & highlighted the need for additional staff in CAMHS, plus creating mental health support teams/workers in schools. This does not consider children who are too young to attend school, children & young people with disabilities or those on apprenticeship schemes.
Research has shown that babies who do not form healthy relationships with a parent/carer have an increased risk of mental health issues in later life; therefore, optimal mental health starts in infancy.
Barnardo’s Children Charity: www.barnardos.org.uk
Contact A Family: www.contact.org.uk
Family Lives: www.familylives.org.uk
PAPYRUS (Prevention of Young Suicide): www.papyrus-uk.org
Young Minds: www.youngminds.org.uk
Department of Health & Social Care and Department of Education, 2017. Transforming Children & Young People’s Mental Health Provision: a Green Paper. Accessed online 08/02/2019, available from
Mental Fills Counselling Services, 2018. How to Nurture a Child’s Mental Health. Accessed 09/02/2019, available https://mentalfills.com/
Mental Health Foundation, 2019. Children & Young People. Accessed 09/02/2019,
Place2Be, 2019. What We Do. Accessed 09/02/2019