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Are Children Getting Enough Mental Health Support?

Night terrors, self hitting, social withdrawal. These are just some of the signs of anxiety we were dealing with in my son. It went on for a period of a couple of months then slowly eased off. He had a similar period about a year or more prior to this. So whenever we think we are out of the woods, something else might trigger this sort of behaviour.

As parents it's only natural to worry about your children, but how much is the right or acceptable amount? I consider myself as a little neurotic and that itself can be picked up subconsciously by children. But when your child makes you worry about their mental well-being day and night, that's when other help might be needed.

Is school too much for some children?

Throughout all of this, the one clear conclusion I can come to, is that as a nation, we do not invest enough in mental health in general, let alone children's. It took 6 months to get an appointment at the Children's Development Centre and to even get that we had to have letters from GPs, teachers and SENCOs as well as keeping a behaviour diary for a month as evidence.

Lack of Funding

It is understandable why it shouldn't be straight forward to get an appointment in the first instance, as we must prioritise those in great need or that are most vulnerable. I get that. But I feel there needs to a be a plan B in place. The only other option we were given was to see the Educational Psychologist, whose waiting list was even longer than the Development Centre. Schools aren't getting enough funding for even the basic resources, so funding for mental health is far lower on the list of priorities.

According to Children and Young People's Health Coalition, 1 in 10 children between the ages of 5 and 16 have diagnosable mental illness, yet only 1 in 3 are getting the care and support they need. Whilst there has been a massive increase in the waiting lists for professional mental health support, the finances don't match up. In fact, the government admit that 'poor financial and performance data means it is difficult to identify how much is being spent on services or the difference they are making to young lives.'

What You Can Do?

You can only do what is right for your individual children, you know them better than anyone else so trust your gut instinct. If you do need to go down the route of getting help, just be prepared for a long wait and a lot of paperwork, but I'm sure if you will get the help that is needed.

In the meantime, practising mindfullness and relaxation methods may ease those more difficult times. I have found, once he had warmed to the idea, that really enjoyed doing these. It can be a great bonding experience too, and let's face it we could all do with a bit more calm in our lives!


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