U18’s Mental Health
Posted: 5th Dec 2019
Mental health amongst our youth
The emotional wellbeing of children is just as important as their physical health. Good mental health allows children and young people to develop their resilience enabling them to cope with whatever life throws at them and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults.
There are thousands of young people who are going through a mental health crisis, including those at risk of taking their own lives. Alarmingly a fifth of the under 18’s who attend A&E for psychiatric problems such as depression and self-harm are not seen within the supposed maximum of four hours.
Emma Thomas, the chief executive of the charity YoungMinds, warned that long waits could make things worse for a young person in crisis.
“We work with young people who have waited months for mental health support and who have started to self-harm or become suicidal, who then go to A&E because they don’t know where else to turn.
“But despite the best efforts of staff, it’s often a stressful and frightening environment, and not somewhere a desperate child or teenager should have to wait for hours before getting help.”
Things that can help keep children and young people mentally well include:
- being in good physical health, eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise
- having time and the freedom to play, indoors and outdoors
- being part of a family that gets along well most of the time
- going to a school that looks after the well-being of all its pupils
- taking part in local activities for young people.
Other factors are also important, including:
- feeling loved, trusted, understood, valued and safe
- being interested in life and having opportunities to enjoy themselves
- being hopeful and optimistic
- being able to learn and having opportunities to succeed
- accepting who they are and recognising what they are good at
- having a sense of belonging in their family, school and community
- feeling they have some control over their own life
- having the strength to cope when something is wrong (resilience) and the ability to solve problems.
Most children grow up mentally healthy, but surveys suggest that more children and young people have problems with their mental health today than 30 years ago. That’s probably because of changes in the way we live now and how that affects the experience of growing up.
If you are aware of a young person who needs urgent help, then YoungMinds operate a messenger service (texts are free from most service providers). Alternatively the Samaritans are available any time, day or night.