We have seen and heard a lot recently in the news about children who have been abused by MPs and celebrities. The clearest point which has come out of these despicable acts is the need to protect our children. It couldn’t be clearer. But, one area of child protection which has not been fully promoted via the media is that children need therapy and support. Children with mental distress and Survivors of abuse need a clear and positive path to recovery. Mental health problems usually bring about a complex set of emotions which children have difficulty understanding. Children suffering from mental distress may be unable to understand what they are experiencing and why they are feeling the way they do, often keeping their thoughts and feelings hidden away.
Here is a stark fact:
One in ten children between the ages of one and 15 has a mental health disorder. (The Office for National Statistics Mental health in children and young people in Great Britain, 2005)
Why am I writing this article? To raise awareness of a problem which we may not be aware of – The lack of quality therapeutic resources for children.
The demand for quality therapeutic services for children far exceeds the actual availability of these services. There is a huge gap between what is available and what is needed.
Many children do not get the support and counselling they need. There are very few excellent services, even fewer specialist services especially for sexual assaults and rape. So why is there such a limited service? The answer is simply a lack of funding.
Therapeutic counselling services have complex funding arrangements, often having two or more sources of income that tend to be short-term, unstable and insecure. Shortfalls from such unstable and short-term funding are of significant concern to managers across all sectors of provision. It hampers the nature of therapeutic work, which often needs to be long-term.
Let me put the above into a practical context – I am a supporter of one particular therapeutic counselling service for children and young adults based in Basingstoke – YPI Counselling. The manager ( who is also a remarkable counsellor ) spends a lot of time trying to procure grants and donations. YPI have a waiting list, a long waiting list of children waiting for much needed counselling services and when they are able to obtain counselling, it is for a limited time. I have often discussed this issue with the manager – why the waiting list is so long and why the counselling cannot be for longer periods of time. Her answer is always the same – MONEY. More money would mean more quality counsellors. Due to shortfalls in funding and donations YPI find it very difficult to employ more trained BACP accredited counsellors (http://ift.tt/1phkb5T). More funding and donations would mean more staff sharing the workload, shorter lists and the children would also get more therapeutic sessions.
£40.00 pays for 1 counselling support session.
We need to support all children. As a community of adults, it benefits us all in the long term to help support our children and young adults.
I am going to ask each one of you who is reading this article now to consider donating to YPI Counselling. I have chosen YPI because I know how hard working and dedicated the staff are – many of whom are voluntary. I know how much support and help they provide children and young adults. Please, ( you will not hear a Dominatrix say this word often ) please consider donating and supporting YPI.
Services for children and young adults are not only too few but those that do exist far exceed their capacity.
If you are an organisation or work for a company which offers grants to small charities, please encourage them to donate on behalf of all the staff. I am hoping that you will choose to support YPI and the great work they do mending our children.
Below are the links for the YPI Counselling homepage and their DONATIONS page. If you would rather discuss long-term funding through individual donations or corporate donations, you can contact the manager:
Areas of mental distress common among children and young people
Anxiety and Anxiety related problems
Anxiety is usually defined by heightened awareness, uneasiness, nervousness and dread or fear of either real or imagined dangers. Though it is entirely natural to feel a anxious now and then, perhaps before a test or a big meeting, when it becomes excessive to the point it is impacting our ability to go about our everyday activities this is an indication that it is progressing into problem and help should be sought.
Below is a list of anxiety in its variety of forms:
Generalised anxiety disorder
In this situation there is nothing specific which is causing or triggering the anxiety but there is an ongoing fear that something bad is going to happen. In the instance of a child, they may feel like they have no control over the situation which will result in physical side effects such as stomach aches, headaches and sleeplessness and relationships may also be affected.
Hypochondriasis is the fear of having a fatal disease despite there being no evidence indicating this may happen. Similarly to the generalised anxiety disorder it can take on a physical form causing stomach aches, headaches and nausea. Often associated with young adults.
Fear of a certain object, person or situation etc that gives the individual an overwhelming desire to avoid it despite it presenting no danger. Phobias become a serious issue when they start preventing a person from functioning on an everyday level.
Young children will often become distressed when separated from their parents, but this kind of anxiety in older childhood or adolescence may indicate a wider problem. This may occur when a young person experiences change or an upheaval of some description such as divorce of their parents, a bereavement or moving home and schools. Excessive crying when parents leave, difficulty sleeping or refusal to go to school are also all symptoms.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
ADHD currently affects around 1.7 per cent of the UK population, most of whom are children3. The condition causes its sufferers to become easily distracted often with a short attention span. Children with ADHD may also find it difficult to interact and play with other children as they don’t exhibit safety awareness or courtesy when it comes to taking turns and often become aggressive. ADHD is directly associated with school failure, exclusion and poor future prospects.
Though not a mental illness, Autism is known to cause difficulties in communication and social interaction all of which affect a young persons ability to understand emotions of others, social behaviour or the concept of danger. The term also covers other disorders such as Asperger syndrome.
Bipolar disorder otherwise known as manic depression is an illness characterised by abnormal mood swings of periods of extreme highs and euphoria often followed by deep lows and unhappiness.
Though we tend to associate depression with adults the common condition also occurs in children and is usually noticed through a change in behaviour and or feelings of despair. Currently almost 80,000 children and young people suffer from severe depression.
Additional symptoms include a change in eating habits, sleeping patterns, school performance, motivation and concentration and often manifests as anger and rage. If left to continue untreated many of these symptoms progress and destructive habits such as self harm and substance abuse (both of which are growing in this group). However, the condition is treatable especially if early diagnosis is sought and support is given from friends and family.
According to the Mental Health Foundation both anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are the most common forms of eating disorders, affecting around 2 per cent of adult females. Various research suggests that eating disorders tend to set in during teenage years, peaking around the age of 16.
A person suffering from anorexia nervosa often has an extremely distorted body image and an intense fear of gaining any weight. Though a sufferer may be hungry they inflict weight loss by banishing any calorific foods and fats. The condition is more common among girls usually beginning in mid teens and has very little to do with looking good and more to do with deep rooted emotional problems and the need for an element of control.
Though this condition is more common among girls, the number of boys affected each year is continuing to rise. The condition see’s the sufferer alternate between binge eating and self induced purging (vomiting or use of laxatives and diuretics). Similarly to anorexia the condition is usually indicative of a deeper underlying issue and the sufferer will more often than not try to keep it hidden.
Binge eating is the term used to describe a disorder which see’s sufferers eat extreme quantities of food, often when not hungry. Afterwards the young person will usually feel ashamed and embarrassed about the eating and may feel as though they are out of control. If the condition persists it is likely to cause weight gain which brings about additional conditions both physically and mentally.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Obsessive compulsive disorder is essentially reoccurring thoughts and obsessions which the sufferer will feel the need to carry out in a repetitive and ritualised fashion, for example counting, repeatedly checking if something is locked or closed, touching, excessively washing hands etc. Usually the compulsive acts stem from a fear that something bad may happen if they are not carried out.
Though schizophrenia is rare in young people there are cases in which children exhibit signs early on. Symptoms include a fear of other people, difficulty distinguishing reality from fantasy, hearing voices and delusions and generally sufferers will perceive the world quite differently from others and are withdrawn and often devoid of emotion.
Self-harm is usually a sign and expression of a deep rooted emotional problem and often young people use it as a way of coping with difficult feelings they may be having. Self-harm often involves making cuts in the skin with blades, glass or sharp objects and other methods such as rubbing, burning, scratching and swallowing objects. It is estimated that 1 in 15 young people have deliberately self-harmed, with additional evidence suggesting that UK rates of self-harm are higher than the rest of Europe.
Suicide in young people is usually linked with depression, loss, abuse or other issues from which they feel there is no other way out. According to a study cited in the Samaritans report on young people and suicide, there are an estimated 24,000 suicide attempts made by 10 to 19 year olds in England and Wales each year, which amounts to one attempt every 20 minutes.
Difficulty sleeping may take the form of nightmares, night terrors and or sleepwalking. Unlike many of the other types of distress listed in this section a sleep problem is not necessarily an indicator of an underlying issue and may have more to do with television programmes and eating habits etc. However, if the problem does persist for an extended period of this time this may indicate a deeper emotional cause.
Alcohol, drug and substance misuse can often result in serious physical consequences including that of addiction. Many young people turn to these substances as a way of escaping from complex emotional issues and mental health problems that would benefit from more appropriate interventions such as counselling.
Figures compiled by the NSPCC Child Protection Awareness and Diversity Department state that there were 31,919 children named on the child protection registers on the 31st March 2006.
Additional figures from the NSPCC suggest that some 7 per cent of children are physically abused by their parents or carers, 1 per cent of under 16s are sexually abused by a parent or carer, a further 3 per cent are sexually abused by another relative, 11 per cent are sexually abused by a non relative and 5 per cent are sexually abused by a stranger.
Though the exact prevalence of child abuse is unknown, researchers believe it to be far higher than the figures of recorded cases suggest, with numbers such as the 112,000 children counselled by ChildLine in 2001/02 adding further weight to the mounting evidence. Of those 112,000 children, 21,000 sought advice about physical or sexual abuse.
via Blogger http://ift.tt/1phkb65