Advice, Uncategorized

Mental health and young people: Is there a lack of support?

Yesterday (11th April 2016), CentreForum, the independent think-tank published a report, which revealed that nearly a quarter of children and teenagers on average are turned away by mental health services after being referred by their GP’s, teachers or others.

CentreForum found that this was due to service’s having ‘high thresholds’ for access to their services, revealed after analysis of the service’s eligibility criteria.

In the report, CentreForum stated that these high thresholds for treatment eligibility prevent one of the most effective forms of mental health treatment for young people- early intervention.

It was also found that young people were waiting for prolonged periods of time to access treatment with the average of the longest waiting times being almost 10 months between the first GP/school referral and the beginning of their treatment. This, along with a lack of funding for mental health services in certain areas of the UK shows a worrying escalation in the support offered to young people suffering from mental illness.

This report has been released in the same week that a UK bereavement charity pushed for a full investigation by the Government into the way deaths of young people in mental health units are recorded. An inquest suggested that nine young people had died as in- patients within mental health facilities since 2010.

This only solidifies that there is a considerable lack of support for young people suffering from mental illness.

Early intervention is key.

Depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses suffered by children and teenagers will often by present at a young age. Certain behaviour such as a change in sleeping patterns, irritability, loss of interest in certain activities and withdrawal from socialisation can often be clear indications of a young person who is carrying the black dog. Some people may question whether this is just the behaviour of a typical teenager. But this behaviour will often extend to prolonged periods of time with little to no change in mood.

This will often affect a young person’s school or college life, resulting in low grades, bad behaviour or low attendance. These warning signs should be a clear indication that further investigation is needed.

Intervening as soon as a problem is spotted can allow schools to offer the right support and advice for the affected young person as soon as possible. All too often, a young person who has suffered from mental illness will have gone throughout their school life with little to no mental wellbeing support. I know of quite a few young adults who suffer from depression or anxiety and have done from a young age, yet never had anyone listen to their issues or offer support which could have allowed them to receive the treatment they needed much earlier.

Is it the lack of funding? Or a higher demand?

The reality is that figures show funding levels for NHS mental health care in England have dropped by 2 percent in recent years. This lack of funding leads to long waiting lists and less accessibility to the services, which are desperately needed to prevent the potential suicide and self-harm of young people. It also puts a strain on charities that rely solely on donations to provide young people support such as Samaritans and Child Line.

There is also the higher demand for these services due to the rise in mental illness in young people. Statistics by YoungMinds.org.uk show that young people between the ages of 15 to 16 with depression doubled between the 1980’s and the 2000’s, showing there is a constant increase in the amount of young people being diagnosed with mental heath issues. This could be due to a lack of knowledge in previous years or maybe just the way our society has changed its views on mental health. Regardless of what has caused this higher demand for services, these resources need to be available to prevent an increase in suicide levels in adulthood as well as self-harm in young people, which is believed to affect 13 percent of children and teenagers between the ages of 11 to 16.

We shouldn’t have to lose a young person due to a lack of support and funding for life-saving services.

If you have been affected by the topics discussed in this post, please contact the following organisations for support:

Mind 

Young Minds 

Parents or teachers in Bedfordshire.

Georgia OX

 

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

5 small things that make me happy

*Image taken by myself in Cornwall. Ask for use.

Catching up with an old friend over a cuppa.

There is nothing I love more then a good ol’ chinwag and some gossip. Friends will often come in and out of your life, especially as you get older. But the special friendships will last a lifetime. It makes me to happy when I get to chill with a friend and reminisce of a simpler time, like when Busted breaking up was your biggest stress. If you haven’t spoken to a friend in a while, drop them a message and arrange to meet somewhere for lunch or invite them over to your place. It could brighten your day.

Hot chocolate.

The elixir of love (not really but it’s blooming good stuff.) It’s a bit like a warm hug isn’t it? I can count of hot chocolate to bring a smile to face when I’m feeling a bit under the whether.

A Netflix binge.

There’s always a gripping box set to catch on Netflix. Whether you’re obsessed with real crime shows (waves hand up in the air) or more of a drama addict, you’ll be sure to find a binge worthy watch. I watched Making a Murderer in two days before Christmas (10 hours worth of show)… #truelifestorybro.

My other suggestions include Scream; Orange is the New Black and the first series of The Killing. There is nothing better then losing yourself in a good story.

The sea and/or a beach

The sound of waves, the sand between your toes and the breeze in your hair are just a few of the reasons I would quite happily live by the sea. I’m a bit like a frantic puppy when I see a beach. Although it has a calming effect on me, it also makes me super giddy like I’m at Disneyland. Maybe I was a dolphin in a previous life, who knows?

My dog running about like a loon.

I let me dog off the lead in the park the other day and he literally ran about for 20 minutes like he’d never seen grass before. He makes me smile so much when he bounces about with excitement. What did human beings do to deserve such wonderful creatures?

 

What are five small things that make you happy?

If you’re feeling a bit down, go and do one of the small things on your list. Whether it’s a certain food, a walk in the park or a book you haven’t read in a while, go and give it ago! You might find it gives you a reason to smile this week.

Have a great weekend, G

 

Advice, Lifestyle

5 Things I’d Tell My Teenage-Self

Growing up is never easy.

It’s commonplace to find your teenage years engulfed by angst and raging hormones.

Most people will remember those years fondly as they mature into relatively civilised adults. And some may do all they can to avoid reminiscing of such times. But you’ll almost certainly be who you are today thanks to your time as a teen.

It moulds you into who you are today. Every experience, good or bad, will have taught you a valuable lesson in life. And for that, we should always be grateful even if we wouldn’t necessarily choose to go back and do it all again.

As a 21-year-old, I understand I still have a lot more to learn in life.

But I also think I’ve changed a great deal since my years as an angry, moody and undoubtedly irritating teen.

There are a lot of things I feel I would have benefited from if someone had sat me down and told me about them way back when. And hopefully, a lot of you will be able to relate to it when you think back to your younger selves.

So, here you go, 5 things I’d tell my past self if I knew what I’ve learnt today.

Stand up for yourself.

Sometimes you can be a bit of a pushover. Remember, only you have the power to allow other people to belittle you. If you speak up and let your voice be heard, people will understand you mean business!

That doesn’t mean you have to be rude or obnoxious, though. Just don’t allow other people to speak down to you or make you feel less of a person than you are. Bullies prey on the venerable. Don’t give them the opportunity to upset you or stop you foing the things you love.

Be more confident!

Put your name down for school council! Sign up for drama classes! Start up a band!

Do all the things you are worried you’ll be judged for because other people’s opinion of you is none of your business.

At the end of the day, the only emotion you’ll feel will be regret for the missed opportunities you had a school. So what if people talk. Let them talk all. The only thing that matters is that you are happy and doing all the things you want to do!

STOP dyeing your hair black!

No seriously stop. I get you are going through the ‘emo’ stage and you think it’s really alternative and edgy, but you just look ill. The thick black eyeliner is also a no go zone. You look like you haven’t slept. Even My Chemical Romance would ask if you were OK.

Punky Fish isn’t the only shop in the world!

Let’s be honest. It’s not even real punk fashion. That furry purple jumper look’s like you’ve just skinned the Cookie Monster’s girlfriend. Also, Beetle Juice wants’ he’s stripy black and white trousers back. Just sayin’

Love yourself.

Ok, so I’ve insulted your fashion sense and your ‘emo’ inspired makeup/hair, but I’m telling you right now, if you learn one thing from high school, learn to love yourself.

Popularity and a big pair of knockers will not matter one iota in 5 years time. Enjoy every aspect of your personality. Understand that the only person who can make you feel comfortable in yourself is you. Embrace the awkward phase and the alternative clothing because if you want to dress outside the box, you’ve got to rock it with confidence.

Understand that people like you because of who you are and not who you are trying to be. The only person you want to impress is yourself.

So, to all the awkward, angst-ridden teens out there, understand there is no one else in the world quite like you. You are unique and amazing in every single way.

And I promise you, even though it feels like you don’t know who you are right now, you are not lost. You are just searching for your true self. And one day it will all make sense, the ups, the downs, the fights and the tears. They don’t last forever. One day you’ll see just how fantastic you really are.

G XO

Advice

What Society should learn from Robin William’s Life

Yesterday marked the year anniversary of Robin William’s passing.

When somebody in the public eye who is admired and loved by many passes, it’s always a desperately sad time, even more so when said person was known to be just as much a character in real life as their celebrity personas.

This was Robin Williams. I know this to be true because my Aunt shared a story not long after his passing, stating that as a youngster, a friend and herself had crossed paths with the late actor when she was still living in the USA. He was apparently very kind to them and even referred to them as his friends when his security was being over precautious.

Stories like this seemed to swamp the Internet when it was announced the actor has died at his Californian home in August 2014.

One of the sweetest stories referred to the friendship between Williams and fellow actor Christopher Reeve, who was involved in a horse riding accident in 1995. The story was about how, during Reeve’s recovery in hospital, Williams had paid him a visit dressed as an eccentric doctor with a strong Russian accent who stated he must perform a rectal examination of the actor. This was the first time since the accident that Reeve’s had laughed and realised, thanks to Williams, things were going to be okay.

Robin Williams really was the sweetest, most caring man in Hollywood. I get really emotional when I remember that such a talented and wonderful man was suffering through some of the darkest days of his life.

It was no secret that throughout William’s life he battled with addiction. This in turn had brought him to hard times and affected his mental health. Yet he had been able to beat it and had gone on to commit himself to 20 years of sobriety. But like most addictions, there is always the possibility of a person relapsing back into their old ways.

Reports stated that Williams had spent some time in a Treatment Centre before his death in order to focus on his commitment to staying sober. He was extremely proud of this, as anyone with an addiction will know how hard it is to become independent from his or her addiction.

It was stated not long after the announcement of Robin’s death that his suicide was as a result of a recent battle with severe depression, with information added at a later date that the actor has also been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

It was very obviously the last straw for Williams. He could not take it any longer.

The thing about Robin William’s death is that he didn’t die from suicide. Yes, suicide was the direct cause on paper but what the actor really died from was an illness. Just like a terminal illness, severe depression can result in a person’s passing. Except, we as a society don’t seem to see it in the same way.

Depression isn’t a physical thing. You can’t see depression in the face of an individual the way you might see a person’s broken leg or chronic back pain.

Their pain is mental. It takes them to places that are so dark and full of despair that they can’t drag themselves out of it. It’s like falling down a muddy decline and haven’t no grip on the sides. You can’t pull yourself up and sometimes; other people can’t reach down to grab you either.

These people have often been fighting for a long time. There is no energy left in them to claw at the sides of that muddy pit anymore. They could see a little glimpse of sunshine at the top to start with, but they’ve sunk too deep and they don’t know how to wade through it.

People like Williams are so strong. Suicide is not cowardly. It’s not a sign of weakness. Suicide is often the last resort for so many who suffer from mental illness. People who haven’t experienced mental illness may not understand how dark Robin Williams mind was, how desperate he must have been to keep fighting but how tired and lost he eventually became. He felt he couldn’t carry on living his life the way it has been moulded for him by depression.

There is a lot we, as a society, should learn from Robin William’s life and passing. Although his death will never define his unimaginable colourful and beautiful life, it should open our eyes as human beings to why we need to change our perception of mental illness.

It should allow us to understand why judgement is not needed.

People with depression are in their own personal hell. Judgement is only emphasising the untrue perception they have of themselves. Those who suffer from depression need support and other people’s understanding. They need to know there are others routing for their recovery. They are NOT weak. They are lost and need those around them to shine a light back to the path they’ve lost sight off.

Williams passing should teach us that behind every smile, is a life we do not know of.

People who appear happy are usually the people most likely to be suffering from depression. They smile because our society has taught them to mask their true feelings. People like Williams gave so much happiness and light to other people lives but were unable to give it to themselves. Society needs to recognise that everybody is susceptible to depression. A smile does not necessarily reflect happiness in one’s life.

Celebrities are not exempt from mental illness either.

Many talented and successful people battle with depression and anxiety. I’ve seen a lot of judgemental comments about this subject. You don’t decide to have a mental illness. Depression doesn’t choose a person depending on their salary or lifestyle. Anyone can suffer from a mental illness at any point in his or her lives. Remember this.

It’s so sad we had to lose one of the biggest stars in Hollywood to understand how devastating mental illness can be on an individual. Let’s hope it helps to change people’s perception.