Mental health issues in the UK have been an ever-growing problem, research and surveys conclude that in 2021, the number of people contacting services like CYPMHS, a children’s and young people’s mental health service, was up by 24% since 2020 and 44% more than in 2019.
However, charities and services have become more aware of the psychological challenges that face our young community today. The independent mental Health Taskforce published its Mental health five year forward view plan in February 2016 with aims of improving mental wellbeing services for children across the UK. Having the ability to identify poor mental health and correct treatment can prevent these issues from being carried on through to adulthood.
What are mental disorders?
The characterization of good mental health in children is being able to develop emotional millstones as well as learning healthy communication and social skills as well as speaking abilities and their learning capabilities. Mental disorders are when these skills are a struggle for young children to grasp and are often a sign of mental distress in children. The majority of the time, symptoms can be identified as early as 5 years old! But symptoms may also appear in the early teens.
Where do they come from?
Research has suggested that the national lockdown, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has prevented thousands of children across the UK from attending school and resorting to online teaching techniques. This has resulted in children with Increased sentiments of anxiety, loss of motivation and panic attacks. A survey conducted with 2,438 young people said that the main issues they were facing in daily life was the isolation and loneliness, proving that socializing is more important than ever in the recovery process for children. According to CDC the main disorders to have been diagnosed in children are, anxiety, depression, Tourette’s syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder as results of many different environmental, biological, and psychological reasons.
Environmental – These are factors the make up the physical, social and attitudinal environment in which children conduct their everyday lives. These can include:
• Death or divorce
• Dysfunctional family life
• Social expectations
• Substance abuse by the child’s parents.
Biological- Factors are those inherited from family members which involve irregular or non-functioning nerve cell circuit pathways to the brain, therefore creating some sort of mental block in the emotional awareness process. These can include:
• Brain injury
• Parental damage
Psychological- These consist of issues that affect the emotional state of a person impeding their ability to communicate effectively. These can include:
• Psychological trauma
• Childhood neglect
• Poor ability to connect to others.
What can you do to help a child?
The real topic in question is what different people can do for children suffering with mental health issues:
Parents/ family members/carers – Parents are statistically more likely to know what their child is going through, if you have doubt about your child’s mental stability, their behaviour and communication skills at home or in school. Staying connected, honesty and being active is the right way to go when caring for a child with a mental health disorder. Ensure that your child knows that having moments of vulnerability is ok and remind them that they are in a safe space to speak freely about their emotions.
Youth groups – Youth clubs are an excellent way of getting young people to develop resilience to problems, improving their social skills, making new friends, experiencing new things. Youth services provide a safe environment for children to be themselves giving them more opportunities to open up emotionally.
Teachers – As education is a part of everyday life for children, teachers should be among the first to notice any problems with a child’s learning and or mental capabilities, as they are constantly in that learning environment where mental health issues are identified by the symptoms shown above, and therefore should be pro-active in arranging appropriate health care as well as meetings with the parents to discuss the best way forward for the child.
What’s being done?
Countless charities across the UK are working together to create awareness for rising mental health disorders in young people as well as ensuring the correct diagnosis and providing the care they need.
Supporting charities that help children with mental health concerns can greatly increase the work they do, helping more and more children find the help they need and ultimately becoming healthier and happier children.