The mental health crisis facing our young people

Covid-19 has been tough on all of us. We are seeing the impact on young people. From stress at home, to the impact of not physically being with peers, to the lack of contact with extended family members, and not being able to do all the physical things that usually help ground children, the restrictions have left our young people struggling more than ever before.

(Warning: some distressing statistics coming your way)…

  • 80,226 more young people have been referred to the NHS Mental Health Services between April and December 2020 (aka. prime Covid-19), compared to the same period the year before.
  • Young people needing emergency care is up to 20%.
  • About 1 in 6 school-aged children have a mental health problem. This is an alarming rise from 1 in 10 in 2004 and 1 in 9 in 2017.
  • For those who are referred to the NHS CAMHS Service, 1/3 of them receive no care while another 1/3 are on waiting lists of over a year. Private Psychologists are at full capacity and operating waiting lists too.
  • There is an average 10-year delay between young people displaying the first symptom of a mental health problem and them receiving any help. This decade of delay exacerbates the problems, potentially escalating into mental health crises.
  • Suicide is the biggest cause of death among young people under the age of 35.

I could go on, but for fear these could make you cry, I’ll move on swiftly.

These numbers though, are stark reminders of the mental health crisis facing our young people today. For the sake of them, and the future of society in the years to come, we need to get more creative about how we understand and meet the mental health needs of all these young people.

Already the NHS is completely stretched, with the focus currently being on vaccinations and the backlog of operations and procedures that were delayed because of Covid. We need to think therefore, how can we, as Psychologists, meet the unmet demand and support the NHS?

Here at Pocket Family, we have begun doing just that. Through family consultations and online programmes (see here and here for more details respectively), we are trying to provide immediate care for young people and their parents, when they need it. Our online programme, Taming Your Lion, is an engaging psychological programme for 7-12 year olds that can help support emotional and social development, as well as those struggling with big emotions, such as anxiety or anger. It is a 6-week therapeutic online programme which integrates a range of evidenced-based therapeutic approaches and strategies including CBT, systemic ideas, ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) and Compassion Focused Therapy. Indeed, both our online programme and consultations have a strong focus on the personal context of the individual to fully understand the causes of distress and help empower parents to guide their children through it.

Please do get in touch if you would like to hear more about it. Otherwise, we would also love to hear of any suggestions or ideas that you think could help meet the unmet demand for our young people.

As ever, take care,

Pocket Family Psychologist

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"Dr Andrea Shortland’s session for MediaCom on a children’s mental health was incredibly informative"

“Dr Andrea Shortland’s session for MediaCom on a children’s mental health was incredibly informative. During the second period of lockdown and home-schooling; parents and children found themselves again in a period of upheaval and transition. Many parents and carers were extremely worried about their children’s mental health and their own ability to be present and engaged whilst also playing the role of teacher and care giver. Dr Shortland gave attendees an insight into how many parents were feeling; tips on supporting children and helping them cope whilst studying from home and also managing their mental health. She also helped us realise the importance of taking care of ourselves in order to effectively support our children. It was such a useful session that we realise it was also pertinent for not only children’s mental health but also adults! We will be holding another session with Dr Andrea and MediaCom soon.”

Avelon Thompson, MediaCom (following a parenting workshop)