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 email@example.com to book a complimentary 15 minute clarity call.