Advice, Uncategorized

The Inbetweeners of Mental Health

A friend and reader, Tracey, suggested today’s blog topic.

The issue of the ‘inbetweeners’ of mental health seems to be a problem many people have experienced at one stage or another. It’s the transition stage between what the NHS class as childhood and adulthood. It is the point in which an existing or newly referred patient, over the age of 16, is moved on to adult services.

The UK’s leading charity in improving young people’s mental health services, YoungMinds, are currently campaigning to improve transition care from child and adolescent mental health services to adult services, preventing young people from getting ‘lost in the system’.

And there are many who are being left in the dark when it comes to receiving the support they need from mental health services.

Did you know that when young people reach the age of 16 or 17, they are no longer eligible for support from CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service)?

But more worrying is that they are often much too young or do not meet the strict criteria to be referred to AMHS (Adult Mental Health Services) as they may be classed as ‘not ill enough’.

So where does that leave these ‘inbetweeners’?

It puts them in a position where, ultimately, they are not able to access any of the services that could help them on their way to recovery. This is a dangerous position to be in for any young person suffering from mental illness.

So why do these issues occur exactly? And what could be done to change them?

First of all, the criteria for support through AMHS is very different to that of CAMHS. AMHS point of entry for treatment is a lot more difficult to meet than CAMHS in regards to the severity of the individual’s mental health. For example, AMHS will often only intervene when a young person has reached a crisis point or are deemed as a danger to themselves or others while those under 16 will often be referred to CAMHS before their illness advances to such stages.

As mentioned in my previous blog, this is where early intervention is key and can not only save a young person’s life but would prevent a young person from having to access more advanced mental health services (such as inpatient facilities) at a later age. If these services and resources are offered to a young person as soon as issues surface, they are able to better equip themselves with the techniques or methods they need to prevent a relapse in their mental health in the future.

This current gap in young people’s mental health care is very worrying and an issue many may not be aware of unless they themselves have tried to gain access. Young people who are no longer able to access CAMHS are waiting long periods of time to reach the correct age for AMSH services, which can’t start until the individual reaches 18.

This huge gap and subsequently, further delays in referral can mean many young people ‘give up’ on transitioning to adult services and therefore never get the treatment they need, having a huge effect on their future mental wellbeing with potentially dangerous consequences. Young people are in essence ’disappearing’ from these services and falling off the radar.

There is also the added funding stress on the NHS, with services in particular areas receiving less funding in mental health services than others, meaning fewer funds for each patient and therefore a lower referral rate. There is a variation from county to county as to what age is classed as eligible for transfer to adult services also. For example, a 16-year-old may transfer to AMHS if they are no longer within full-time education. If they are still in education, they will often not be transferred until they are 18 years of age, showing a contradiction between counties within the NHS.

These young people are being passed from pillar to post. A lack of communication is also present between the two services. Neither CAMHS nor AMHS appears to be making the effort to work in line with each other. This leads to information not being passed between the two mental health services and therefore, many young people will have to undergo another assessment before entering treatment. Understandably, this can also be quite traumatic for a young person.

These services need to provide continuity and routine for already venerable young people.

Between the ages of 16 to 18, young people with mental health are probably at their most venerable. They are often making important decisions about their education. Should they stay for further education or apply for an apprenticeship?

They will often have to make more intense life decisions about relationships and friendships as well.

So why, at their most venerable, are they being turned away from the support they need more than ever?

It’s a frustrating and worrying time for both young people and parents when they are left in this limbo period, often feeling as though their concerns are not being heard or ‘don’t matter’.

The Government invested £54 million in improving young people’s mental health services between 2011 and 2015. Yet young people are still not getting access to the services they need.

Have you or your child experienced the gap in services? How do you think the NHS could improve on this?

Leave me a comment!



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 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:


Young Minds 

Parents or teachers in Bedfordshire.

Georgia OX



Topshop: STOP glamorising self-harm!


Self-harm is a serious symptom of mental health issues and low self-esteem.

It is not a fashion statement.

So why is Topshop currently selling temporary metallic tattoos that appear to depict self-mutilation as if they are the ‘next big fashion trend’.

The golden scar tattoos were created in conjunction with a new range of accessories the popular retail store have created to encourage and celebrate loving ones self. The temp tattoos, which have become a popular accessories for the summer festivalgoer for the last few years, were designed in collaboration with a jewellery design student from Central State Martins and currently retail at £8.50 a pack. The packaging also shows the slogan ‘Scars worth fighting for’.

Topshop Tattoos Gold

But rather then being met with the positive and empowering response the fashion brand had hoped for, the tattoos have been met with distain and disgust by many people across the net.

This isn’t the first time Topshop have come under fire for their ‘distasteful’ and inappropriate use of mental health issues to promote fashion.

Last year the British retailers were selling clutch bags with the slogan ‘Stressed, depressed but well dressed’ which they soon pulled from their stories after receiving backlash.

Using mental health problems to create ‘fashion statements’ seems to be a worrying and ever popular technique of selling clothes and accessories for a number of high street stores. One of the most high profile being Urban Outfitters, who have produced various garments in the last few years which openly glamorize mental health issues, such as their ‘Eat Less’ t-shirt and the ‘Depression’ crop top.

So let me jump straight into it. There is no doubt in my mind that the products I’ve just mentioned were created and sold to cause offense and upset. Unless you are a child under the age of eight who can’t use their own initiative or intelligence to understand that a t-shirt that read’s ‘Eat less’ is most definitely glamorizing anorexia, then there is no excuse to produce clothing which has such a message.

But I could, in some way, understand where Topshop might have been coming from with these metallic temporary tattoos. Celebrating our flaws and our ‘scars’ rather than being ashamed of our personal struggles is an ideology our society should aspire to and any public figure that encourages this is doing right in my book. Yet, there is no doubt that Topshop have gone about this in the completely wrong way.

The official target market for Topshop is currently 15 to 30 years old.

When I was a youngster, wearing Topshop clothing was something to aspire to. Although pricey, young people are drawn to the shop for its catwalk inspired couture and on-trend statement pieces. The popular vloggers are all wearing it, so why shouldn’t they?

And this is exactly why these temporary tattoos, regardless of the innocent intention of their creation, need to be taken down from Topshop shelves.

Just like the current trend of denim dungarees, there is always the concern that these fashionable accessories could become of ‘aspiration’ to young people who may see the stick-on scars as a ‘fashionable craze’ they should all join.

It all links into the misconception self-harm is often tainted with; that harming one’s self is a form of ‘attention seeking’ or a ‘teenage craze’.

Mental health charities and ambassadors are still finding they come across this misunderstanding in today’s society.

They have spent much time trying to raise awareness and educate people on the truth about self-harm yet actions such as the one’s taken by Topshop completely undermine their efforts.

Fashion and self-harm should never have to be in the same sentence.

The seriousness of self-harm has been completely misjudged by Topshop.

Over half of people who die due to suicide will have previously self-harmed. 1 in 5 young people will suffer from mental health issues.

These statistics are often forgotten by retailers who create such products purely for profit, a profit which even when argued ‘holds a positive message’ will not go towards charities or organisations which work to help the very people who have to ‘fight their flaws’.

Stop glamorizing self-harm. No amount of gold metallic paint will cover the pain and darkness that hides within self-harm. A transferable sticker isn’t going to raise awareness of mental health. If anything it will belittle the many people who struggle with it day in, day out. It’s not a trend and it certainly isn’t a fashion statement that should be encouraged in young, impressionable people.

Education is key and the misuse of an issue as serious as mental health for brand promotion is both wrong and exploitative.

If you know someone who self-harms or you personally have been affected by this story, please seek help and professional guidance. There are a number of organisations out there that can help and support young people and adults struggling with mental health issues.

If you are looking to help a friend who is self-harming, remember that it’s important to listen and leave judgement at the door. When someone is struggling with mental health issues as well as self-harm, they will feel alone and isolated. They may not want to speak to anyone about it.

Self-harm and mental illness should NEVER be seen as shameful as many people suffer alone when they shouldn’t have to.

You can visit these sites to get more information and 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.


Misconceptions of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety Anxiety is kind of like that friend who you know has your best interests but is actually REALLY clingy and slightly obsessive

Anxiety is a natural emotional response to anything that our brain deems as being dangerous. Referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ response, it was most useful back in the stone ages to prevent yourself becoming lunch for a hungry creature double your size.

Hormones, such as adrenaline, would prepare you physically to fight the creature or do a runner! In turn, this would make you feel more alert and ready your muscles for a WWE style smack down or a Mo Farah run, which would hopefully stop you from becoming a human kebab!

Thankfully, we don’t have to worry as much about creatures trying to feast upon us these days.

But these reactions to potentially dangerous situations are still prevalent and sometimes for good reasons. Without anxiety, we would literally all live our lives like members of the Jack Ass team. As an emotion, it allows us to approach situations with a levelheaded outlook.

‘Hey Bob, should I dangle my legs off this really tall cliff for the lol’s?’  

‘Hmm, not to sure about that Jim…Sounds dangerous to me’  

‘What’s the worst that could happen?’  

‘Well, you could slip and fall down the cliff to your death Jim’  

‘Yeah, that’s true Bob, better not try that then’

(In this situation, Bob is anxiety)

Anxiety will cause feelings of unease and fearfulness in many life situations from school exams and job interviews to illnesses or breakups. But for many people, these feelings will only be present during a small and reasonable length of time. These are normal emotional reactions that every person will and should feel.

An anxiety disorder refers to an exaggerated and prolonged response that affects an individual’s everyday life. It’s often hard for people to differentiate between suffering from an anxiety disorder or just undergoing a normal anxiety response because anxiety is such a common emotion.

But the two are very different.

There are many misconceptions about anxiety disorders and I’m going to talk about a few of the most common.

Only weak people get anxiety disorders.

You can be the strongest person in the world and still be struck down with an anxiety disorder. In all fairness, it’s usually the strongest and most confident people who suffer from anxiety disorders because they hide their emotions away. It’s a bit like kids films where someone would keep putting stuff under their bed and pretending it wasn’t there until the bed touched the bedroom ceiling.

People who suffer with mental health problems are often ashamed. Society has lead us to believe we have to put a smile on our faces all the time and pretend to be something we are not. This leads to high levels of stress, which will eventually lead to anxiety disorders.

At this point, people are often left confused. ‘Oh I never knew so and so was having such a hard time! I thought they were really strong’.

People deal with situations in very different ways. We don’t always know people’s stories or what their lives are truly like. Try not to judge.

Only people with anxiety disorders have panic attacks  

Panic attacks are a common symptom of high anxiety but are not always prominent with anxiety disorders. Specifically, anxiety disorders like Generalised Anxiety Disorder are more commonly diagnosed due to other less obvious symptoms such as insomnia, loss of appetite and obsessive thoughts.

Panic attacks are a physical reaction to anxiety and regular panic attacks will usually lead to a diagnosis of Panic Disorder (an anxiety disorder which consists of excessive panic attacks). But as stated, they are not always a symptom of an anxiety disorder and a panic attack can happen with or without mental health problems being present (such as the first time someone performs on a stage).

Anxiety Disorders can only be treated with medication

Medication should always be a last resort when it comes to anxiety but you should always decide what works best for you. In the short term, anti-anxiety medication can help you to obtain a better mindset in order to use other techniques.

However, there are lots of alternative techniques that can be used to get on top of an anxiety disorder and medication will often have it’s own side effects which should always be discussed in length with your GP.

Medication free treatments include:

CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)

Mindfulness Meditation  


Breathing Techniques  

and Hypnosis (and others)

You should always fight anxiety!

Anxiety isn’t something you should fight against, but rather work alongside to control. When you fight anxiety, it often gets worse. Anxiety thinks it’s doing you a favour because, after all, it’s protecting you from ‘harm’. Specific treatments such as exposure therapy will allow you to face your fears a little every day and stay on top of your anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are not easy to deal with. They often make you feel like you’re a prisoner to your own mind but getting the right help and support can allow you to do all the things you love and not feel as though your anxiety disorder defines you. You should never feel alone as 1 in 4 people in the UK will suffer with an anxiety disorder at some stage in their lives.

Keep strong!

Georgia OX


Mood Juice