Updated: Oct 14, 2022
One of my earliest experiences of child mental ill-health came when I was 19. I was working in a primary school and one day I arrived early to find a boy from one of the classes I supported standing in the middle of the road. I asked him what he was doing there and, after a long pause, he said "I'm waiting for a car to hit me so I don't have to be here anymore." At the time I was a volunteer for the Samaritans and had arrived early for work having done an 11:00 pm to 7:00 am shift on the phone line. Although I'd heard difficult and sometimes harrowing stories from adults that led them to the brink, and sometimes past the brink, I'd never experienced a 10-year-old with suicidal thoughts. Without patronising I found out that he wanted to die and it wasn't like in the cartoons where you could come alive again.
I managed to get him out of the road to sit on the school wall with me and I listened as intently as my training had taught me. This was in the 1980s; pre Covid-19, cyber bullying and sexting, but that young man's angst was as significant to him as any of the 21st century problems we know so well now. The NSPCC wasn't as high-profile then and Childline was just being launched. So I asked if he wanted me to take him home to speak with someone in his family, but he declined. I told him that I would have to let his teacher know and he said: "That'll be two people who care about me then." It wasn't all plain sailing, but he managed to get the support he needed - and I never complained about overnight duties again. 💚
So, for anyone who works with children and young people or who have children of their own, mental ill-health can start in very young children. Whatever their age, help them to share their worries, give them the time and space to formulate their thoughts into words and seek support, for them and for you. We really can make a difference.
Here are some great organisations that can help:
Last year #HelloYellow was a record-breaker - it was our brightest year yet! But this year a different, more concerning record has been broken. According to the latest NHS figures, nearly half a million young people are being referred for mental health problems every month, with many not being able to get the support they need. That's more young people than ever before seeking support - and most aren’t getting the help they need. This needs to change. With your support, it can.This World Mental Health Day, thousands across the country are coming together to say #HelloYellow.
Join us on 10 October to show young people that how they feel matters and help us create a future where all young people get the mental health support they need, when they need it, no matter what. To take part, simply wear yellow, donate what you can to Young Minds, and post a photo on social media. Call the Parents Helpline for detailed advice, emotional support and signposting about a child or young person up to the age of 25. Free on 0808 802 5544, 9:30am - 4pm, Monday to Friday.
The Children’s Mental Health Network
CMH Network is bringing together the voices of children's mental health. CMH Network promotes and advocates for the availability and effectiveness of high-quality services for children with mental health needs and their families. As a non-profit organization, the CMH Network does not take government money so that we can independently distribute the best information and ideas about policies and programs and how they affect young people and their families.
The CMH Network publishes an e-mail newsletter ("Friday Update”) every Friday which reaches a widely diverse audience of youth, parents, community leaders, policy-makers, state and federal officials, and increasingly, similar groups from countries across the globe. Friday Update shines a spotlight on current topics and critical issues focusing on children’s mental health.
National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)
For signs of depression or anxiety in children, knowing how to talk to your child about their mental health, or recognising the signs that they might be struggling, can be really hard. Signs of depression or anxiety in children can sometimes look like normal behaviour, particularly in teenagers who can keep their feelings to themselves. It’s also natural for children or young people to feel stressed or anxious about things like exams or moving to a new school. But while these experiences can be very difficult, they’re different from longer term depression or anxiety, which affect how a child or young person feels every day.
Realising that your child may be struggling with their mental health and experiencing anxiety or depression can be hard to accept. Sometimes parents can feel like it’s their fault or want to know why their child is struggling with a mental health problem. This is completely understandable, but the most important thing you can do is to reassure your child and not judge them for how they’re feeling. Ways to help a child who’s struggling include:
letting them know you’re there for them and are on their side
try talking to them over text or on the phone if they don’t feel able to talk in person
being patient and staying calm and approachable, even if their behaviour upsets you
recognising that their feelings are valid and letting them know it’s okay for them to be honest about what it’s like for them to feel this way
thinking of healthy ways to cope you could do together, like yoga, breathing exercises or mindfulness
encouraging them to talk to their GP, someone at their school or Childline. Especially if they’re finding it hard to talk at home.
take care of yourself and get support if you need to. Try not to blame yourself for what’s happening and to stay hopeful about your child’s recovery.
Talking to a child worried about COVID If your child is anxious or worried about COVID, there are things you can do to help. And if they're struggling with their mental health, we have advice to help you support them and keep them safe. There's a lot of uncertainty in the world at the moment. And there won't always be answers to the questions your children are asking. But we can help you have these conversations in a safe and open way.
Childline Childline is a free service for children and young people - here whenever they need support or advice. We've delivered an average of around 17,000 counselling sessions a month since the first national lockdown began. Childline is here for every child and young person. Whatever problems or dangers they're facing we’re here to listen – 365 days a year. "I am so immensely grateful that you were there to listen without telling me I am lying, judging me or making me feel worse about myself and that is the amazing thing about these chats, they can save lives." Girl, aged 14 A common issue for young people's mental health is poor sleep. Here are some tips:
Relax before going to bed Some people find reading helpful. But stick to paper books - the light from computer screens and some e-readers can make it harder to fall asleep. It's best if you have no screen time for at least 30 minutes before you plan to sleep.
Make sure you're comfortable Not too hot or cold, and that the room you're in isn't too noisy or bright.
Do some exercise Don't overdo it, but try some regular swimming or walking. The best time to exercise is in the daytime – particularly late afternoon or early evening. Later than this can disturb your sleep. Exercise burns off excess energy and releases endorphins – natural chemicals that help you de-stress, feel less anxious and more relaxed.
Write it down If something is troubling you and there’s nothing you can do about it right away, try writing it down before going to bed. Once it’s written down, you can tell yourself you’ll deal with it tomorrow.
List things that make you feel good These don't have to be big things - they could include the weather, your favourite song or someone in your life that you enjoy seeing. Keep the list nearby.
Only use your bed for sleep If you can't get to sleep after about 20 minutes, get up and do something that relaxes you. When you feel ready, go back to bed.
Turn off your phone If you’re being kept awake by friends ringing or texting you, you could ask them to stop. Or just switch your phone to silent or ‘do not disturb’ – or even turn it off.
Picture yourself in your favourite place Close your eyes and imagine you’re in your favourite place or where you want to be one day. Imagine yourself happy and relaxed. Slowly breathe in and out, relaxing your muscles until you feel a sense of calm.
We want to improve young people’s understanding of their mental health and wellbeing and to equip them with the knowledge, skills and confidence to look out for themselves, their friends and those around them.
Charlie Waller Trust
Most of our work is delivered to those responsible for young people - schools, families, colleges, universities, the workplace and primary care - through consultancy, training and the provision of educational and practical resources. Our overarching mission is to educate young people and those with responsibility for them - so parents and carers, teachers, college and university staff, employers, GPs and practice nurses - about their mental health and wellbeing. Our focus is on supporting all young people, throughout their journey from primary school age to the early years of their working lives, recognising that the points of transition in that journey can represent moments of particular vulnerability.
We aim to improve their understanding of mental health, to give them the knowledge and skills to look out for and support themselves and those around them, and to give them greater confidence in talking openly about the subject. By enabling more open and better-informed conversations, we aim to further reduce the stigma that still surrounds mental health. The majority of our work is delivered through schools, parents, colleges and universities, and workplaces, in the form of consultancy, training, and the provision of educational and practical resources. We seek to establish enduring partnerships with such organisations, in order to bring about sustained change and lasting improvement.
This being our focus, we do not offer direct one-to-one support or advice for individuals. However, through our sponsorship of the Charlie Waller Institute at the University of Reading, we facilitate the training of clinicians in evidence-based psychological treatments, and associated research, so helping to increase the availability of expert help to those individuals when they need it. Overall, our approach is: Positive - focusing on prevention and early intervention and recognising the importance of offering hope. Proven - our consultancy, training and resources are all based on sound clinical evidence. Practical – our content provides people with strategies and tools to care for their mental health, and to support others in doing so.
World Health Organiszation
Doing What Matters in Times of Stress: An Illustrated Guide is a stress management guide for coping with adversity. The guide aims to equip people with practical skills to help cope with stress. A few minutes each day are enough to practice the self-help techniques. The guide can be used alone or with the accompanying audio exercises. Informed by evidence and extensive field testing, the guide is for anyone who experiences stress, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances.
World Mental Health Day 2022 - The WHOs "Health for the world’s adolescents" report reveals that depression is the predominant cause of illness and disability for both boys and girls aged 10 to 19 years. The top 3 causes of adolescent deaths globally are road traffic injuries, HIV/AIDS, and suicide. Worldwide, an estimated 1.3 million adolescents died in 2012.
“We hope this report will focus high-level attention on the health needs of 10 to 19-year-olds and serve as a springboard for accelerated action on adolescent health.” (Dr Flavia Bustreo) Drawing on a wealth of published evidence and consultations with 10 to 19-year-olds around the world, the report also brings together, for the first time, all WHO guidance on the full spectrum of health issues affecting adolescents. These include tobacco, alcohol and drug use, HIV, injuries, mental health, nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, and violence. The report recommends key actions to strengthen the ways countries respond to adolescents’ physical and mental health needs. “The world has not paid enough attention to the health of adolescents,” says Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General for Family, Women and Children’s Health, WHO. “We hope this report will focus high-level attention on the health needs of 10 to 19-year-olds and serve as a springboard for accelerated action on adolescent health.”
Mental health problems take a big toll as globally, depression is the number 1 cause of illness and disability in this age group, and suicide ranks number 3 among causes of death. Some studies show that half of all people who develop mental disorders have their first symptoms by the age of 14. If adolescents with mental health problems get the care they need, this can prevent deaths and avoid suffering throughout life. WHO will work with partners to launch a campaign around the theme of Making Mental Health & Well-Being for All a Global Priority. This will be an opportunity for people with mental health conditions, advocates, governments, employers, employees and other stakeholders to come together to recognize progress in this field and to be vocal about what we need to do ...
to ensure Mental Health & Wellbeing is a Global Priority for all. 💚