Thoughts on Theresa May's plans to reform the mental health services

Child hiding under cushions

A post from Hertfordshire Therapy Centre children’s therapist Laura Burrage …...

These past few weeks children’s mental health services have been the talk of the government, social media and the news. From every direction people are posting, discussing and proclaiming that Theresa May has announced that childhood mental illness must become a priority and her ‘unveiling of plans to reform the mental health services’.  

I see professionals getting excited at the prospect of awareness and aid to their services, parents feeling relieved that they may finally be able to get their child the help they so strongly need and deserve. The entire UK seems to have a positive outlook on this proclaimed priority. 

However, I must admit to feeling angered at these claims by Theresa May.  As a children’s therapist who has devoted the past 7 years of my life in training and practice to work in this field,  that may seem strange. But let me break this down…

  • 1 in 10 children will meet criteria for a diagnosis of a mental health disorder by the age of 10.
  • In the past 5 years Anxiety Disorder has started to become present in children as young as 6.
  • Self harm has increased in the past 10 years by 68 %.
  • 80,000 children under the age of 18 suffer from Major Depressive Disorder, and 10,000 of those are under 10 years old.
  • 95% of current young offenders have a diagnosed mental health disorder.
  • In the past 10 years 98 children aged 10 – 15 have committed suicide.


These statistics are shocking. And I wonder why did it have to get to this point for the government to stand up and take notice? Childhood mental illness has a profound effect on the future of these children. Low education levels, poor employment, substance abuse, domestic abuse, and offending are empirically evidenced. This does not include the suicide risk that is clearly apparent. This is the children of our future. For the families surrounding these children; marriage breakdowns, financial strains and parent psychopathology are the effects of a child with a severe mental illness. 

Theresa May talked a good talk and she got the country riled up in excitement. But let’s look closer; Theresa May did not discuss budget increase, she did not discuss the development of new services or the funded training to develop more job roles for the already over stretched services we have. She didn’t mention hospitals or outpatient services at all. She spoke about communities and schools. 

The problem there? I didn’t go through 7 years of training for nothing. It takes specialist training to be equipped to work with these children. Teachers do not have this training. They are trained to teach and although they provide much needed pastoral support for our kids, they are not responsible for their mental wellbeing. We are. The parents, the GP’s, the nurses, the Psychologist, Psychiatrists and the Therapists. 

I am proud to have worked in the NHS for over 4 years before entering into private practice. I have seen the demands on the NHS and I have seen the amazing work the staff do. But I have also seen the strain. I personally researched into ASD diagnostic waiting lists within our NHS and found an 18- 24 month wait. Our children’s psychological services currently have a 9 month wait. So where does that leave these children? It leaves them without. It leaves their families without.

So I shall wait with baited breath to see the outcomes of the government’s new plans to promote childhood mental wellbeing. 

In the meantime I will continue to work with these children, their families and their schools on the front line because if I can stop one child taking the wrong path, if I can stop one teenager cutting themselves or talk one pre-adolescent depressed child from taking their life, or if I can reduce the social isolation of our SEN children and if I can give my support to one family to give them a tiny glimmer of hope, then my training, the demands and the stigma attached to my role and research will be worth every second. 

I’m waiting RT Hon May….

To book a call to talk about how we can help you be even more awesome, or if you are a professional and would like more information about working with me please email me at to book a complimentary 15 minute clarity call.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

National Hug Day

man holding child

Today, 21st January, is National Hug Day.  Go and hug someone right now (with their permission obviously if it’s a stranger!).  I’m going to hug my daughter and then I’m going to give my other half a hug, after which I shall give my cat a hug too.   Actually, we often have group family hugs.

It’s a funny to thing to have a national day devoted to hugs when I, for one, hug every day be it my family or my cat at the very least.   Apparently the most huggable person in 2017 was Jurgen Klopp, the Manager of Liverpool FC as he gives hugs freely and isn’t worried by any associated stigma of ‘man-hugs’!  I think actually men are getting far better at giving each other hugs these days.
I guess though that not everyone is lucky enough to have or give a hug.  Perhaps they are living alone, not able to get out and about.  Perhaps their loved ones are not close to them.  Maybe, for whatever reason, they don’t feel physically able to hug.  Which is sad, because hugging promotes feel good feelings for us.

The very act of hugging triggers a hormone in our body called oxytocin.  It acts as a neurotransmitter, a chemical messenger, from the brain.  One of oxytocin’s main roles is during childbirth and breast-feeding to help bonding between baby and mum, but it’s release in our body, from physical contact, also has a big affect on our emotions, promoting feelings of love, trust and stability. 
In a 2012 study it was noted that couples in the first six months of their relationship had elevated levels of oxytocin in their system. No wonder it’s often called the ‘love hormone’, the ‘cuddle hormone’ or ‘feel good’ hormone.

In addition, oxytocin is also able to help relaxation and decrease anxiety levels.  It does this by counter-acting the stress response and reducing levels of cortisol, another hormone released when the body thinks it’s under attack.

Hugging is not just a nice thing to do.  It really can help our health, giving reassurance and comfort.   Look at film of any traumatic events, 7/7 or 9/11 for example and you’ll see strangers hugging each other for comfort.   Go to arrivals at London Heathrow and you’ll see so many hugs from family and friends greeting loved ones, reestablishing their bond.

So go on, go and hug someone right now and wish them Happy National Hug Day. 

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Soul Searching and Some Self Care

Coffee and Cake

Towards the end of 2016 I started a lot of soul searching.

As for many people, 2016 was a difficult year for me personally. I have had counselling and different types of therapy since a teenager but this year pushed some deep buttons for me and it was time to deal with them, so I got serious. I had NLP and hypnotherapy, started a business mentoring mastermind group and got a whole stack of self help books. I have read some amazing stories of peoples journeys, got some great advice and cleared a lot of stuff from my head. I ended the year feeling great.  

For the first time in a long time I enjoyed Christmas, I partied, properly connected with people and felt good about myself. It didn't even bother me too much that I couldn't get into my jeans come the 2nd January, something that in the past has sent me into a downward spiral. 

In my last blog post I talked about stepping into my fear, thanks to Gabrielle Berstein and Susan Jeffers, and I have been practicing that on a daily basis. Yesterday I began reading Ruby Wax's new book, 'A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled', all about the frazzled mind.  I woke up this morning with a headache,  a headache that has been there for over a week. I was tired from a very long week at work and knew that today I needed to clean my house in preparation for guests staying next weekend with a much higher level of cleanliness than me! Today I didn't want to clean, today I wanted to sit on my bum and do nothing. SO it seemed did my lovely family. To give them their dues they did do a bit of housework, my girls did a great job of their bedrooms, my  husband cleaned the front room, BUT there's a lot more of my house than that, and it seemed that the rest of the house was down to me.

I spent an hour cleaning the bathroom so I could have a bath and came downstairs to see all three of them on the sofa chilling out, surrounded by dirt, trash, stuff. I asked for help, I asked them to help me with the shopping, I was ignored, I hate being ignored. I was angry, today I used my anger. I told them how I felt and then walked out.  No one actually seemed bothered by this fact which, of course, upset me more - no 'mummy please don't be upset', no text to say hope you're OK, take all the time you need.

I muttered to myself a lot, I shouted in the car as I was driving and then I took myself shopping and for lunch and I really enjoyed it. In the past I have used food for comfort, OK today I had a cake, but I also bought myself beans on toast and took my time eating it in a lovely cafe where no one wanted anything at all from me.

Today I practiced the self care on which I counsel other people.  Today I enjoyed the time out, and came home to have a conversation but without an axe to grind. I'm still not sure anyone actually missed me, but I'm OK with that because today I met my own needs.  I self-soothed in what feels like a really positive way and, you know what, that headache that has been hanging around is finally lifting.  Amazing huh!

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.