Issues which affect a person’s mental health are very common from childhood through to adulthood and can be caused through biological factors and different experiences they may have had.
For children and young people, their mental health can be affected as they have to face lots of challenges, changes and pressures across many aspects of their lives. Physical changes in their bodies, school life, home life, local cultures, social networking, media pressures, the list is endless and every young person manages them differently.
For those less able to cope, their mental health can be affected in many different ways either short or long term.
Warning signs of becoming unwell:
- Changes to a person’s eating or sleeping habits
- Withdrawal from people or activities
- Low mood
- Negative patterns of behaviour and language
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Changes in appearance
- Inability or difficulty in managing everyday tasks
- Hearing voices or having a sense of paranoia
- Increased smoking or use of drugs or alcohol
These are just some of the outward symptoms a person could display but this is not an exhaustive list by any means. Remember, a person’s feelings, emotions and displays of them are individual and so any changes could always be explored in terms of their mental health but do not necessarily mean that they actually are experiencing mental health problems.
Types of mental health illnesses
The most common mental health conditions in this country are depression and anxiety and these could have been experienced by everybody from a cleaner, to a teacher, nurse, scientist, dog handler, bus driver or anybody else! Mental illnesses can affect ANYBODY regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, address, level of education, employment status or other social factors. Unfortunately, illness, including mental illness, is all inclusive!
As mental health illnesses have such a vast scope, it is difficult to cover each diagnosis in full terms. However, some helpful basic outlines of many conditions can be found on the following websites:
There are many many different forms of diagnosis and many many different treatment options. Having support may help to relieve many fears and provide a starting place from which support or treatment, which does not always mean medication, can be accessed for your child.
Your child could initially contact the School Base Counselling Service who accept self-referrals via email.
Contacting the GP as soon as possible is also a good place to start. Their support may meet your child’s needs or they may signpost them to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service:
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services
You could also contact organisations such as:
MEIC Young Minds Directory of Mental Health Services in Cardif and Vale of Glamorgan
What can you do to help your child?
Many people are able to manage their mental health independently but for others, support is necessary. Provided the person is supported and given tools to help take them forward, recovery is often possible. Support from parents, carers and friends are all crucial elements in the recovery process and although there is no wrong or right way to support someone, the having someone there is key. You can try to have an understanding of the problem and its affects, have plenty of patience as it can be a slow process and show encouragement and belief in your child. These steps can all help to make your child feel safe. Please remember, you must also look after yourself in order to look after those you care about. Some useful websites are:
Rethink Mental Illness Time to Change
Self-harm is the fourth highest cause of a call to Childline in the UK with them providing
over 19,000 counselling sessions between 2014 and 2015. Self-harm can begin as a cry for help, a compulsion or it could be a way to release emotions they are unable to express verbally.
The reasons are individual and could take many different physical forms. Cutting, burning, biting, pulling out hair, scratching, bruising, poisoning and over dosing are all expressions of self-harm but again, these are just some examples of the forms it can take. It’s not usually a suicide attempt but does have a genuine concern to be taken seriously as soon as possible to prevent it from developing further and enable coping strategies to be used. Being able to talk things through with your child , show that you acknowledge their feelings and are trying to understand can help and support them. For more information, visit:
NSPCC NHS Childline
Other Useful contacts