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Are we mindful enough of our Children’s Mental Health needs?

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I am fairly confident that if I were (as I have below) to quote the lyrics of this popular Whitney Huston song, most folk would recognise them and a lot of you would even know what song it was part of.

I believe the children are our are future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier.

And indeed they are beautiful words and convey a beautiful message don’t they?  But the question is, are they – is the message they convey – a reality for our children?  Especially when it comes to their Mental Health?  In fact – I would suggest – that even the song itself conveys a certain scepticism.  Check out the next few lines for example…

Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be
Everybody searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone who fulfill my needs
A lonely place to be
So I learned to depend on me.

Not exactly the most optimistic of statements is it?

People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone who fulfill my needs
A lonely place to be .

As someone who has suffered with Mental Health issues for most of his life, I can tell you that as a parent I was – and still very much am – acutely aware of how my mental health impacts my children.  Just as I think most parents who also experience mental health issues will be.  But of course it isn’t only the way our own Mental Health impacts our children and of course not all Mental Health issues are genetic.  What about children’s mental health?

As a child, whilst I was acutely aware of how my mental health issues impacted me – my life, my perspective and my relationships.  I did not understand why and I didn’t know how to deal with them.  Which then resulted greatly in my trying my best, where possible, to hide them and also resulted in a tremendous sense of isolation and lack of self-worth, even a sense of self-loathing.

I do, of course, recognise and accept that I grew up in England in the 60’s and 70’s when any form of Mental Illness or mental health issues were; so very badly misunderstood, extremely poorly handled and – sad to say – completely stigmatised.

And I am of course very much aware that things have moved on and our understanding of mental health has improved greatly.  But, even so, we have to ask the question, “Even if our understanding has improved greatly has our handling of them really improved enough?  Especially in the case of our children and young people?”

upset boy leaning against a wall

Because a recent survey conducted by the Guardian Newspaper in the UK would suggest not.  And in respect of the services available to Children and Adolescents in the UK it even states..

“Seven in 10 psychiatrists deem Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services to be inadequate at best” (Quote from the Guardian Monday December 26th, 2016)

You can read the full article in the guardian by clicking here.  But I have to tell you that it is a concerning and saddening read.

And I don’t think it is a huge leap of logic to suggest that the UK is not alone when it comes to an inadequacy of mental health services to children and young people.  And we have to, I believe, ask ourselves if indeed the ‘children’ who were ‘our future’ a few years ago aren’t already the part of the crises that we are facing or beginning to face within Accident & Emergency department as reported by the BBC who made the following disturbing statement…

 “Experts say a lack of early support means patients are reaching crisis.

Data compiled for the BBC by NHS Digital showed that between 2011-12 and 2015-16 the number of patients attending A&E units with psychiatric problems rose by nearly 50% to 165,000.”

And who went on to make the even more disturbing statement…

“For the under 18s alone the numbers almost doubled to nearly 22,000.”

( You can read that article on the BBC website by clicking here.)

youth-ae

“For the under 18’s alone the number almost doubled.”  Isn’t that a staggering and deeply concerning statistic?  And we should remember that behind this particular ‘statistic’ are 22,000 young people under the age of 18 for whom their mental health related issues themselves have reached a crisis point.

There is no doubt about it, at least not in the mind of this writer, it is long since time when we – should be investing in providing proper care – including education – in respect of the Mental Health of our young people.

I believe it was Walt Disney  who said, “Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.” Well here’s the deal.  If it is, then it is a resource of minds which are all too often damaged and all too often improperly cared for!

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One comment on “Are we mindful enough of our Children’s Mental Health needs?

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