I would like to introduce James Park to you…

He is writing a book which look at the factors causing young people to self harm, the unhelpful ways in which services sometimes respond to their distress, and the routes people find back to feeling on top of things. 

He has written books before, ran for 20 years an organisation that helped schools promote young people’s mental health and emotional well-being, and is a qualified (but currently non-practising) psychotherapist.

He is happy to talk by phone, over skype, face-to-face… or in any other way that works for you. He will treat whatever you tell him as confidential and, if he does use elements of your story in the book, will ensure you cannot be identified.

You can get in touch with James by email (jamesrobertpark@icloud.com), by phone (0771 201 3172) or via Adrienne Grove at Harmless on 01158348445 or email adrienne@harmless.org.uk 

Please take a little time to read his email below and help him to get the correct messages across. If you have any questions please give me or James a call. This is our chance to be heard..

Adults not listening: will you tell me your story?

Ask a young person who sometimes self-harms, or thinks of killing themselves, what it is they most crave from the adults around them, and the chances are they’ll say it’s the opportunity to be really listened to. They may add that really listening is something their parents, teachers and others seem to find it really, really hard to do.

All too often, what adults call listening is actually telling: getting in first with a response to what they think a young person is wanting to say: trying to reassure them that they are loved, have the potential to do well in school, will get better in time. They challenge rather than absorb, try to map a shortcut to health rather than being attentive to the thoughts struggling to be expressed.

The effect on the young person is all too often to plunge them back into the despair they thought they were starting to claw their way out of. Asking to be listened to can be an act of considerable courage. It’s about starting to create a small space in which you can feel in control of your own life, evolving a language to express the strange feelings that toss you around: listening to your true self instead of the angry, reproachful voices in your head. Being talked back to just confirms what you feared all along: that you are powerless and undeserving.

In looking for an explanation of why so many young people today are experiencing such high levels of emotional distress, I suspect the answer is to be found in the fact that adults are finding it harder to listen. There are too many anxieties knocking around in their heads: particularly about whether there’s going to be work available for their child, a decent income to be earned: all of which is seen to be dependent on whether a child will get those grades they are going to need. And that’s before a child has started cutting themselves or opening top-floor windows with the thought that they might jump into oblivion.

Another way adults deal with their anxieties is handing the responsibility for listening to their child on to someone else. But while a therapist or counsellor may provide welcome respite, may foster the courage to go back and ask again… and again … for the right to be heard, they cannot replace having a parent who listens quietly … over many hours and days … to what it is their child is trying to make sense of.

And when an adult thinks they have been listening, and has done the caring thing by finding a professional to help, the next time they hear the child telling them they have not been heard, they may inadvertently, in a few unfortunate seconds, express exasperation or frustration, sparking a further downward spiral as the young person turns away, towards some other strategy for managing their despair.

I am writing a book about how we, as a society, can break these cycles of failed communication. To do that I want to hear your stories: whether of asking to be listened to from people who could not respond, or of finding a listener who helped you to health; of trying to listen but failing, or of finding a way to do so. Please get in touch via email (jamesrobertpark@icloud.com) or phone (0771 201 3172). I look forward to hearing from you.

All the best,

James

Young people’s mental health care is ‘inadequate’ according to specialist nurses

According to a survey of 631 workers in children and adolescent services, 43% said things were getting worse.  The poll was carried out by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) for the Guardian newspaper.

Mental health care nurses say they’re worried that the rationing of access to care and shortage of beds are so bad that young people risk harming, or even killing themselves. 

Stacey, which isn’t her real name, is a nurse who works on an acute ward for people with severe and enduring mental illness stated, “Mental health staff should get more training and that more specialist units are needed, especially outside bigger towns and cities.”

For more information click the following link:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/37551837/young-peoples-mental-health-care-is-inadequate-according-to-specialist-nurses  

In the News: The Teenagers who poison themselves…

Self poisoning is on the rise amongst young people.

“It’s like my brain has two bits: the happy bit and the bad bit,” says 18-year-old Jasmine. “The bad bit keeps pushing until it takes over. You feel like you’re losing control of yourself a little bit more and a little bit more. And then it happens.” Jasmine is one of thousands of young people who self-poison using substances such as alcohol, painkillers and illegal drugs to self harm.

Research from Nottingham University has found there has been a 27% increase in known UK cases of young people self harming between 1992 and 2012, with 17,862 incidents reported during that 20 year period.

To read the full article please click on the link below: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-36322642

Here at Harmless we will work in partnership with any organisation, service or individual who feels the need support in understanding how best to help a young person who self harms. If you work with young people and want to know more about how to support someone who self harms then please get in touch at training@harmless.org.uk

In the News: Austerity causing mental health issues for young people.

A quarter of young people referred to mental health service in England including some who had attempted suicide received on help according to a review carried out by the children’s commissioner.

The commissioner obtained data from 48 of England’s 60 child and adolescent mental health service trusts, discovering that 28% of referrals were denied specialist treatment on the grounds that their illness was not serious enough.

Even those with the most serious illnesses who secure treatment faced lengthy delays waiting 110 days.

The post of mental health champion for schools was axed this last month because she warned that austerity was causing mental health issues for young people. Young people explained that the reasons for their anxiety were things like poverty, the prospect of being unemployed, student debt, academic and exam pressures.

To read the full article, please click on the following link:

www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/may/28/nhs-turning-away-children-referred-for-mental-health-help

Harmless will be delivering weekly Creative Therapy Sessions

Harmless are about to begin a 12 week Creative Therapy Group. Included within this is the opportunity to be involved in focus groups (helping steer future service provision). We are asking for your advise and knowledge about how things need to change.

The group will be beginning Wednesday 27th April 16.30-17.30. If you are interested please get in touch ASAP.

The creative therapy group will be for individuals aged between 14 and 18 years, with sessions focusing on expression of emotions, connections and self-esteem.

The aim of the creative therapy is to assist you to find a way of expression that helps you to connect with your emotions.  This will include techniques that can be used for self-expression and personal growth.

If you are interested in joining the group or know someone who might be, please feel free to contact us.

To find out more get in touch with Val by calling 0115 9348445 or by emailing val@harmless.org.uk.

Increasing pressure on children and young people leading to a rise in mental health issues, self harm and suicidal thoughts

In a recent poll carried out by the Association of Teachers and Lectures there has been an increase in young people feeling under more pressure, 55% reported a large rise in pupils with anxiety and stress. There is more academic pressure which results in children as young as six being stressed out about exams and tests. There is excessive testing which has placed that much stress on some young people resulting in a 79% increase in self harm and suicidal thoughts.

Despite government investing £1.4 billion on children’s mental health service in England, some mental health trusts have seen no significant investment in psychiatric services. There are concerns that although the government is determined to improve children’s mental health, there is still a danger that some children will take untreated mental health issues into adulthood.

There is a belief that schools should play a vital role in supporting children’s mental health and build their resilience, but with rising demands, growing complexity and tight budgets getting in the way, some children who need it most may go without support.

If you have any concerns about someone such as a family member, friend or a colleague, then please contact us on 0115 9348445 or email info@harmless.org.uk

In the News: Depression and Self Harm Soar Among Private School Pupils

Survey of head teachers finds problems including eating disorders are now at unprecedented levels, with social media and exam stress blamed

Teenage pupils at British private schools are experiencing unprecedented levels of depression, eating disorders and self-harm, according to headteachers, who say longstanding stresses have been amplified by increased pressure over exams and the ever-present anxieties of social media.

The warning comes from the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference(HMC), representing 175 leading private schools, which surveyed 65 headteachers on the subject.

The responses found that in some ways, schools appear to have become kinder places, with fewer cases of intolerance such as homophobic bullying, as well as less drug and alcohol misuse. However, they found greatly increased cyberbullying and online threats, and what the HMC called unprecedented levels of self-harm, depression and eating disorders among pupils.

Bernard Trafford, the headmaster of the Royal Grammar school in Newcastle upon Tyne and a former chair of HMC, told the Guardian that exam pressures played some role, with pupils facing higher grade requirements to get into top universities.

But a greater factor, he said, appeared to be the way social media made common teenage anxieties harder to escape, also exaggerating worries over such things as body image.

“It is the pressure to excel, and also to be beautiful, all that stuff. And friendship issues seem to be more difficult than ever. In the old days, you got home from school, or in the boarding sector got back to your boarding house, and you got away from it to some extent.

 

To read the full article, please visit:

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/oct/04/depression-self-harm-eating-disorders-private-school-pupils-headteachers-poll?CMP=twt_gu

In the News: Rising numbers of stressed students seek help

Record numbers of students are beginning university this term, making the big emotional step of a new independent life, with many living away from home for the first time.

But there are warnings of rising numbers of students struggling to cope with life on campus, with sharp rises in the demand for counselling.

And there are questions about whether universities are providing enough support for emotional and mental health problems.

Ruth Caleb, chair of Universities UK’s mental well-being working group, says counselling services are facing an annual rise in demand of about 10%.

She estimates the use of counselling usually ranges between 5% and 10% of students, depending on the university, which would suggest at least 115,000 students are seeking help.

Sir Anthony Seldon, vice chancellor of Buckingham University, says this is a “massive problem” and universities have been “negligent” in accepting their pastoral responsibilities.

“Universities are not always honest about admitting the extent of the problems they have. They need to change, they need to take their responsibilities to students far more carefully.”

 

For the full story;

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-34354405

Teenage girls’ mental health overlooked by parents, survey finds

Parents are worrying more about drug and alcohol use by their teenage daughters than the more prevalent “mental anguish” they face every day, a survey has suggested.

Young girls said mental health, cyberbullying and jobs were the biggest worries in their lives and an increasing number considered self harm and depression as the most significant health issues facing their peers, above drug or alcohol abuse.

Sarah Brennan, the chief executive of mental health charity YoungMinds, said the findings of Girlguiding’s girls’ attitude survey 2015 were a wake-up call and highlighted the mental anguish so many girls face every day.

According to the survey, most girls (58%) aged 13 to 21 believed mental health was a serious concern, while more than a third (37%) said they were worried about cyberbullying and 36% said they fretted about not being able to get a job.

Teenage girls felt misunderstood by adults, saying their parents worried more about drug and alcohol use than mental illness.

Two out of five of the girls (42%) said their parents were concerned about drug use, 33% about alcohol and 29% about smoking, while those aged 16 to 21 believed unplanned teenage pregnancy (42%) and risky or unprotected sex (34%) were the greatest source of worry.

For the full story; http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/aug/24/teenage-girls-mental-health-overlooked-parents-survey

 

Our CEO, Caroline, Speaks in Response to the Results of the ‘Girlguiding Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2015′

Girlguiding Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2015 has shown that an alarming number of girls aged 11-21 in the UK are experiencing emotional distress, but more alarmingly, that they feel that the parents and adults in their lives fail to notice or understand these.

Our CEO, Caroline Harroe gave comment today to Capital fm on the report, stating that “whilst what the report states is upsetting, it does not come as a surprise… we hear the stories of young people on a daily basis and whilst we are aware that more people are coming forwards to seek support, there is still a huge gap between the needs of young people and how well they are received by adults. This report is just a manifestation of what we see every day in society; young people are disempowered and their distress is often written off as ‘immature’ or ‘hormonal’. We need to listen sooner to the needs of young people and help them to express themselves freely in order to get the help that they need.”

You can listen to the interview with Caroline on Capital fm across the course of the afternoon and read the full article below:

 

 Parents are too often out of touch with the mental health pressures faced by girls and young women, suggests research.

Self-harm was the biggest health concern for girls aged 11-21, according to the Girlguiding Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2015.

Researchers questioned a representative sample of more than 1,500 UK girls and young women aged seven to 21.

The findings “provide a stark warning”, said chief executive Julie Bentley.

Resilience

The figures show the mental wellbeing and resilience of UK girls are under threat – and yet adults are failing to recognise this, according to the organisation, the UK’s largest charity for girls and young women.

Among more than 1,000 11-to-21-year-old girls and young women questioned, the top health concerns were self-harm, mental illness, depression and eating disorders, along with smoking.

Some 62% of this age group said they knew a girl or young woman who had experienced a mental health problem, while 82% said adults often failed to recognise the pressures they faced.

Overall, more than a third (37%) said they had needed help with their own mental health.

Girlguiding says comparable figures from its 2010 survey showed girls’ top concerns then were binge-drinking, smoking and drug abuse.

 

The 2015 survey suggests girls believe their parents’ worries are stuck in the past, focusing on drug and alcohol abuse.

Worries about sexual harassment and low body confidence are widespread, suggests the survey.

Three-quarters of the 11-to-21 age group said anxiety about sexual harassment had had a negative impact on them in some way, for example, affecting what they wore and how they felt about their bodies.

Some 39% said they had experienced a demeaning comment on their appearance within the past week.

Among the seven-to-11 age group, 83% reported feeling sad or down and 16% said this was because of concerns about their looks.

Root causes

Ms Bentley called for an open conversation about the issues.

“By listening to girls we can work together to tackle the root causes of their distress and champion their potential.”