Despite the fact that one in four people will suffer some kind of mental health problem is the course of a year, there is still as stigma attached to admitting you have depression or anxiety. One of my friends told me recently that they have depression but they did not want me to tell anyone else. This is a sad situation as I would hope that if people knew about it they would be supportive and non-judgemental. I am pleased that they have an advertising campaign on the television at the moment suggesting that people should talk about mental health more.
We also need to be aware that children can have mental health issues too. About 10% of children have a mental health problem at any one time. Parents should look out for mental health problems in their children especially at times of stress. For example, if there has been a family bereavement or your child is being bullied, they may be more vulnerable to depression. Some of the symptoms of depression are: tearfulness, decreased interest in activities that were previously enjoyed, low energy levels, irritability, problems sleeping and saying they want to be dead. One charity that offers help for children and teenagers with mental health problems is www.youngmind.org.uk
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one treatment for depression (Nauta et al, 2003; Butler, 2006). It works by challenging a child’s beliefs about their life. For example, they make think that no one wants to be my friend because they are being bullied. The therapist aims to replace the child’s negative thoughts with more realistic ones such as ‘Maddy and Alex are my friends’. The behavioural part of the therapy involves getting children to increase their activity levels and practice managing problems. For example, children may be encouraged to get involved in a sports team or to speak up about something they are unhappy with. Children are also asked to talk to any friends and family they feel safe with about their feelings to reduce social isolation.
Mindfulness techniques for children and teenagers http://wp.me/p29Oas-gn
- Mental health: Young at suicide risk as health cuts bite (mirror.co.uk)
- Student ‘suicidal thoughts’ warning (bbc.co.uk)
- Students stay silent about mental health problems, survey shows (guardian.co.uk)