Mental Health in Childhood
Mental health Issues can be life altering for children. It isolates them, making them feel different from their peers. It can stop them from doing the things they like and from daily activities. It makes them unhappy and confused.
For parents it is devastating when a child experiences mental health issues. It’s not like a broken arm or a dose of chicken pox that you can see, treat and heal in a predicted amount of time. Mental health issues can ‘creep up’ on a family and create an atmosphere of uncertainty and worry.
The School Nurses in our team have years of experience working with families and children to identify causes and find help.
If an issue has not escalated into a serious mental health problem we can support the child to think differently, reduce anxiety and change how they view experiences. This is important because it helps a child process the information they receive from interactions with others and to look at how it makes them feel.
We are also trained in the ‘teenage brain’ and how it reacts to situations on a systemic level. The teenage years are a 'last' chance for the teenage brain to make connections within their structure. If the brain makes connections that are not ideal this can cause issues such as attachment disorder.
If a child’s mental health issues have become more severe we can support you with referral to other services. We will carry out a full assessment of the child and family in the first appointment and if they need to be referred to tier two and three services we will make these referrals. This might be a referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health services if their mental health issues have led to serious concerns. On very rare occasions, it may even lead to seeking emergency crisis mental health support if indicated.
We have a duty of care to children and their families so will always act in the best interests of the child. This means we will always seek the most appropriate support for a child and if this is not our service we will ensure they are referred to the most appropriate team as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Anna (aged 13) was increasingly anxious and her parents had noticed that she was going out less, was 'snappy' with her siblings and more tearful at home. They got in touch with us after being told the waiting list for NHS Child Mental Health Services was at least 6 months. The nurse from MY School Health who saw Anna completed a full assessment one to one and helped Anna identify that she was on the verge of low mood. We worked on increasing her self esteem, activity, diet and positive experiences using cognitive behavioural therapy inspired methods. They worked on reducing Anna's tendency to overthink situations and reduce her negative reactions to uncertainty. Over a period of a few months Anna began to feel more positive and her parents felt more able to support her. The communication between Anna and her parents improved and family life became less tense. Anna still sometimes struggles with experiences but following the work with our service has the ability to reflect and not to overthink situations. Consequently her resilience has improved greatly as has her mood.