Children & Young People’s Mental Health: Life in a Pandemic

Since March 2020, the world has turned upside down. We know that the coronavirus pandemic, lockdown and education being on hold have had significant impacts on many young people’s mental health. The children you know may be more anxious, low in mood, frightened of the outside world, concerned about loved ones, and missing their friends. Even though lockdown rules continue to change, what we have been experiencing together is a form of collective trauma.

Some children’s existing mental health needs may have been exacerbated – whether they are sleeping more/less, face challenges with eating/appetite, perhaps becoming angrier or irritable; feeling more fearful or sad. These are understandable reactions. Distress comes out in many ways.

Childline have seen calls during lockdown from under 11s increase 37%, with many children reporting “worries about the world”. According to YoungMinds, 80% of young people agreed that the pandemic has made their mental health worse.

What can we do to help?

We need to offer our young people a safe space to talk about their worries. Take them seriously, without judgement, being patient, validating feelings and reassuring them that things can get better.

If you are a parent/guardian, just be there. Be present. Take time to talk, play, encourage a regular routine, and provide safety and security in whatever ways you can.

If we can support children in the right way during this time, they could turn out far more resilient than we ever realised they could be!

I’ll leave you with this lovely thought from my favourite Illustrator, Katie Abey.

Useful resources for parents/guardians:

YoungMinds https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/for-parents/

Childline Call 0800 1111, any time

Samaritans Call 116 123, any time

Harmless (for anyone impacted by self harm): info@harmless.org.uk

By Claire Dixon, Training Service Manager (Sales) and Specialist Trainer at Harmless

Supporting mental health in the workplace

Having a fulfilling job can be good for our mental health and general wellbeing. Work for many of us is a big part of our lives. We spend most of our time at work; it is where we make friends and earn our income.

Sometimes we feel like things are getting on top of us. This could be work related; such as deadlines or travel, or it could be something else; like our health, relationships or personal circumstances. But someone with a mental health problem still has a lot of skills to offer. You might be surprised to know that the value added to our economy by employees who have or have had mental health problems is up to £225 billion per year. This represents 12.1% of the UK’s total GDP.

In order to protect that value, we need to address mental health at work for those with existing issues, those at risk and for the workforce as a whole.

Mental health at work and good management go hand in hand. There is strong evidence that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive.

Productivity can increase by as much as 12% when wellbeing at work is prioritised.

Find out more about how to support mental health in your workplace.

Source.

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-support-mental-health-work

Ash Botes (eLearning Service Manager / Developer)

World Mental Health Day

This years been a difficult one for many of us on both a personal and a global level because of this World Mental Health Day has never been so important.

Take the opportunity to make positive changes and to learn more about Mental health by attending our FREE Module 3 Mental Health Intervention Training, to register your interest use the following link

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/free-module-3-mental-health-intervention-online-training-notts-3rd-sector-tickets-110802302670

PLEASE NOTE:

FREE places are available for frontline third sector staff in Nottinghamshire county (excluding city) only, these places are funded by Nottinghamshire County Council.

A reflection from Laura

On 23rd September, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) released an inquiry report investigating the support available for young people who self-harm. Many organisations contributed evidence and advocated for young people in aid of the report, including Harmless.

Many conclusions were drawn from this report, however, the main one was this: the support for young people who self-harm is not good enough.

For those who don’t know me, I’m Laura and I’m one of the clinical support officers for the Tomorrow Project crisis pathway. I started this role in March, following a short internship with Harmless a few months prior. However, I first came to Harmless in 2014 as a 16-year-old client seeking support for self-harm and suicidal ideation.

Whilst reading the APPG report, I was overwhelmed with how many young people are not receiving adequate support for their self-harm. The finding that particularly upset me, was how so many young people are turned away from support, due to their self-harm lacking severity. The report particularly discussed the word “superficial”, and explained how this word alienates young people.

The support system working in this way, gives the impression that young people’s level of distress can be measured by the severity of self-harm, but that is not the case . This sends a message to young people that only those who are severely self-harming are eligible for support, whilst those who are self-harming “superficially” do not meet the necessary requirements, no matter the extent of their emotional distress. This is such a dangerous ideology. All self-harm needs to be addressed, no matter the severity.

The danger of this ideology is reflected in the invalidation of emotional distress. When young people are turned away by support services due to “superficial” self-harm, the emotional distress that they are experiencing is invalidated. I constantly see campaigns, on social media especially, encouraging people to “reach out” and to “ask for help” if they are struggling with their mental health, but let’s imagine how it must feel for a young person to gather the courage and reach out to services for support, only to be met with invalidation and apathy. Rejected, alone, and hopeless are words that immediately come to mind. This should not be happening.

Anyone who needs mental health support should receive it when they need it. No exceptions.

I am so privileged to have accessed support from Harmless. The support that I received was never dependent on the severity of self-harm, and I never once felt as though my mental health was “not bad enough” to deserve to be listened to. I never once felt pressured to prove my distress, and was always met with compassion and validation. Reading the APPG report has made me very aware of how privileged that makes me, as so many young people are not fortunate enough to receive such support.

But this is not something that should depend on luck. Every single young person who is at risk of, has thoughts of, or engages in self-harm behaviour, should be welcomed by support​ services with reassurance, empathy, and kindness. And that is the bare minimum. We must do better.

I have now recovered from my struggles with my mental health, and I am now working for the Tomorrow Project on their suicide crisis pathway. Life has very literally turned 180 degrees for me, and I hope that this reassures anyone reading this that hope exists, and that life can get better. If you are looking for support, please know that Harmless and The Tomorrow Project are here whenever you feel ready, and you will be met by a passionate, caring, and supportive team.

You deserve to be listened to.

Laura x

Link to the full APPG report and executive summary: https://www.samaritans.org/appg/

Link to a Twitter thread from our Suicide Crisis Twitter, summarising each of the 13 recommendations outlined in the report: https://twitter.com/TP_crisis/status/1308754820887728130

Link to our mental health training Eventbrite page, in response to recommendation no. 8: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/harmless-lets-talk-training-14795237737

Here are the details for our three clinical pathways:

Harmless:
0115 880 0280
info@harmless.org.uk

Tomorrow Project – Crisis Team:
0115 880 0282 (leave a message)
crisis@tomorrowproject.org.uk

Tomorrow Project – Bereavement Team: bereavement@tomorrowproject.org.uk

services with reassurance, empathy, and kindness. And that is the bare minimum. We must do better. I have now recovered from my struggles with my mental health, and I am now working for the Tomorrow Project on their suicide crisis pathway. Life has very literally turned 180 degrees for me, and I hope that this reassures anyone reading this that hope exists, and that life can get better. If you are looking for support, please know that Harmless and The Tomorrow Project are here whenever you feel ready, and you will be met by a passionate, caring, and supportive team. You deserve to be listened to. Laura x Link to the full APPG report and executive summary: https://www.samaritans.org/appg/ Link to a Twitter thread from our Suicide Crisis Twitter, summarising each of the 13 recommendations outlined in the report: https://twitter.com/TP_crisis/status/1308754820887728130 Link to our mental health training Eventbrite page, in response to recommendation no. 8: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/harmless-lets-talk-training-14795237737 Here are the details for our three clinical pathways: Harmless: 0115 880 0280 info@harmless.org.uk Tomorrow Project – Crisis Team: 0115 880 0282 (leave a message) crisis@tomorrowproject.org.uk Tomorrow Project – Bereavement Team: bereavement@tomorrowproject.org.uk

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Suicide and Self-harm prevention’s inquiry released today.

Samaritans supported the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Suicide and Self-harm prevention’s inquiry into the support available for young people who self-harm.

In undertaking the inquiry, the APPG brought together experts through oral evidence sessions, as well as collecting written evidence, to better understand what services exist for young people who self-harm, how effective these are, and how they can be improved.

We, at Harmless we’re privileged to give evidence at one of the oral evidence sessions and are proud to have given a voice to those that we help and hopefully to the other services like ours, doing critical work.

Give it a read and be a part of the change that’s required.

We’ve made the recommendations into audios where young people give their voice.

Watch, listen and learn.

https://youtu.be/LIx8NcyyvGc

https://youtu.be/_nmJpTsM7Xg

https://youtu.be/wOqDjXX2NfY

https://youtu.be/7q6lWjFBlcc

https://youtu.be/0fJsoj0y-Eo

https://youtu.be/YW52aDvlCGU

https://youtu.be/ppieOt1jN14

https://youtu.be/ppieOt1jN14

https://youtu.be/ItgE5kffzOY

https://youtu.be/cEJEVsWxY50

https://youtu.be/w-nMgxTzDIM

https://youtu.be/7Rr5TAY86vs

https://youtu.be/wXDA95KSt-k

https://youtu.be/bufwJbyGhsg

https://www.samaritans.org/appg/

Internship Opportunity

The Tomorrow Project are recruiting for a voluntary intern who can work with us on a short term project. 

The internship will involve creating support documents about a large variety of topics, for Harmless and its associated services. Examples of topics are housing, sexual health, bullying, drugs and alcohol, learning difficulties, and more. The support documents would contain general information about these topics,  helplines and useful websites that can be accessed nationally, and local support services in the Nottingham/shire area. 

The opportunity is well suited to a student or graduate seeking voluntary experience within a mental health service. This work can be done from home, so is accessible to everyone regardless of COVID-19. 

The project will commence in October and we look forward to receiving your application to the email address katie@tomorrowproject.org.uk. Please put ‘Internship Application’ as the email subject. 

You can express your interest in this opportunity by sending us your expression of interest, a brief summary of your experience, and what you think you could bring to this project. We look forward to meeting our successful applicant, and cannot wait to hear from you! 

Walking for William and making a difference

Andrea is one of the Tomorrow Project’s newest clients in the Derbyshire area and is determined to raise awareness around mental health and suicide prevention.  Off the back of losing her own son William to suicide less than 2 months ago, Andrea is now taking a proactive stance in the battle many people have with their mental health and vulnerability to suicide.  Andrea has first-hand experience of the pain and suffering felt by families when loved ones take their own lives and now wants to ensure other families do not have to experience what she and her family have experienced.

That is why Andrea, and her party of five other friends and family of William, have decided to set themselves the gruelling challenge (at least it sounds it to me) of walking 90 miles from Derby to Skegness in just 3 days! They are raising money which will be split between The Tomorrow Project and mental health charity Mind.  The group will be setting off from Alvaston in Derby on Friday 28th August and will be stopping along the way at Grantham and Boston, before arriving in Skegness where they will be releasing balloons in memory of William. They will also be walking with a new attire with T-shirts with William on the front and wearing tutus of different colours, even the lads!

Not only are the 6 walkers pushing themselves physically, but they will also be doing it without the comfort of a cosy bed at night because they will be camping in the Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire countryside. Now that is dedication to the cause…

On behalf of the Tomorrow Project (and the wider Harmless team) we wish all the people taking part the best of luck, you’re going to smash it!

It would be great if everyone could get behind Andrea and her courageous group to ensure they raise a huge amount of money that will contribute to supporting people with their mental health and suicide prevention.  If anybody would like to donate to this cause, you can do by clicking on the link below.

Tom,

Suicide Bereavement Support Officer