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.”

Self Harm: What should school staff be aware of?

Self harm is an increasing problem among children and young people and schools are on the front-line. Child and educational psychologist Dr Joanna Mitchell offers some advice on spotting the signs and how to respond.

Self harm is a concerning reality for teachers, parents and professionals working with children and young people today.

Recent statistics conclude that rates have increased in the UK and are now among the highest in Europe. According to the National Institute for Care and Excellence, the risk of suicide has also increased (NICE 2013).

Studies conclude that between 10 and 12 per cent of young people self harm, but the true incidence is largely unknown as many young people do not present for help.

A recent poll commissioned by ChildLine, YouthNet, SelfHarmUK and YoungMinds revealed that of the 2,000 children and young people surveyed, over half of the 11 to 14-year-olds reported having self harmed, or knowing someone who had. Equally, eight out of ten 18 to 21-year-olds say they have self harmed or know someone who has (reported by NSPCC on Self Harm Awareness day – March 1, 2015).

The predominant reason young people give for not reporting their self harm is the concern that they will not be listened to or that they will be misunderstood.

Yet at the same time self harm is the one issue that all groups (young people, parents and professionals) feel least comfortable approaching. Parents tend to associate young people self harming with failing as a parent, and teachers feels helpless and unsure about what to say. Other research has found that three in five GPs do not know what language to use when talking about self harm with young people.

Children and young people’s general mental health continues to be a concern at both political, social and community levels. Below are some key principles for school staff in how to understand and mange this complex psychological and social phenomenon.

To read the full news article, follow this link:

http://www.headteacher-update.com/best-practice-article/self-harm-what-should-school-staff-be-aware-of/82466/

In the News: Self-harming, why boys need classes to help them cope with their emotions

Almost 5,000 boys and teenagers were admitted to A&E over the last year with self-inflicted injuries last year, according to official figures.

This is a rise of 15 per cent from the year before, though experts suggest the reported numbers may be only the tip of the iceberg.

“Young women and girls may talk about this more, which is the same thing we see in other health and mental health concerns,” said Dr Stephen Lewis, an expert in non-suicidal self-injury at the University of Guelph, in Canada.

“With men there’s often a greater sense of shame; the feeling that you shouldn’t be doing these things and you should be stronger.”

Dr Lewis understands these feelings better than most: he began self-harming as a teenager and continued until his time as a university undergraduate, an experience which he relayed in a recent TED Talk.

While he grew up in a “loving, supportive family”, in secondary school he was “relentlessly” bullied.

“I can recall the pain in my arms from being punched so hard,” Dr Lewis said. “I can also recall what they said to me on a daily basis: ‘You should just kill yourself’.

“I yearned for relief; just a temporary break from the pain that I felt inside. And so, out of desperation…I cut myself. For me, self-injury provided needed relief.

“It communicated the great hatred I felt towards myself.”

Through family support and therapy, Dr Lewis was able to end this self-harm, but he now believes more should be done in schools to help young people – and in particular young men – cope with negative emotions and stress.

“There’s virtually nothing out there about preventing people self-harming,” he said. “Ideally we would be working with children and adolescents as they go through school, teaching them about how we can cope with and express different emotions.

“If they feel they shouldn’t be expressing certain things, they will learn that they shouldn’t talk about how they feel. And over time, even though the majority won’t go on to self-harm, some will.”

He suggested that young people were under more stress than in previous generations, and that heightened stress is often associated with self-harm.

In his previous research, Dr Lewis has focussed on how the internet can be used to support people who are or are at risk of self-harming.

 

To read the news article, please follow this link:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/11573329/Self-harming-why-boys-need-classes-to-help-them-cope-with-their-emotions.html

Harmless Self Harm Drop-in today

Harmless provide two drop in sessions per month, one for adults and a separate one for young people.

Our next drop in session is for young persons and will be held today:

Wednesday  8th July  at 15.30 –  16.30 for young persons aged up to 21 years.

Our trained therapist will be on hand to offer information or advice about any concerns you may have about self harm.

If you have any concerns about someone such as a family member, friend or a colleague, then please feel free to join us, you will be assured of a friendly welcome.

All drop in sessions will take place at the Nottingham Community and Voluntary Service Building, & Mansfield Road, Nottingham, NG1 3FB (Opposite House of Fraser)

If you have trouble finding us please call on 0115 9348445, or email us at info@harmless.org.uk.

In the News: Worldwide sexism increases suicide risk in young women

How do you explain that the leading cause of death of women aged 15 to 19, worldwide, is suicide? An internationally recognized expert on global mental health and suicide said in an interview with the Telegraph: “The most probable reason is gender discrimination.”

In other words, misogyny kills.

There are plenty of shocking statistics in a recently rediscovered 2014 study on suicide from the World Health Organization. The report found that suicides are responsible for half of all violent deaths in men and 71% of violent deaths in women. It also showed that globally, suicide is the second leading cause of death for all young people between the ages of 15 and 29 years old. Yet, somehow, it took us until now to notice just how badly it affects young women.

It was Dr Suzanne Petroni, the senior director for gender, population and development at the International Center for Research on Women, who first realized the chilling statistic as she was going through a WHO special report on adolescents. In a section on how maternal mortality has dropped, there was almost a throwaway line: “[M]aternal mortality ranks second among causes of death of 15–19-year old girls globally, exceeded only by suicide.”

The full article can be found at:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/28/worldwide-sexism-increases-suicide-risk-in-young-women?CMP=share_btn_tw

A*s in Fear, Misery and Self Harm: An Article by Allison Pearson

Three years ago, my daughter opened her GCSE results and promptly burst into tears. Had she failed a subject she was hoping to take at A level? No, she had “only” got 5A*s and 5As. If you think that sounds crazy then, strictly speaking, you are correct, but chances are you don’t have a teenager of your own. Craziness is where the young live now. Yesterday, I asked my girl what she thought lay behind the epidemic of mental health problems in young people. “You can never be good enough,” she shrugged. “I got really solid GCSEs but they could have been better. It’s not just academic work, it’s everything. Kids my age spend an average of eight hours a day online and 80 per cent of advertising features the female body, always perfect looking, so pretty much the whole time you know you’re not good enough.”

“Could do better” used to be the laconic teacher’s scrawl on a sub-standard essay; now it’s the self lacerating mantra of our children during what are supposed to be the best years of their lives. A survey by the World Health Organisation in 2014 revealed that a fifth of 15-year-olds in England said they had self harmed in the past twelve months. That finding bore out anecdotal evidence I had heard from other parents and teachers. Like my daughter’s tutor in the sixth form who suggested that her persistent stomach complaint might have a psychological cause. I was taken aback. “Do you really think so?,’ I asked dubiously.

“Probably a third of the year are suffering from depression, anorexia or self harming,” he replied.

The news was deafening. My daughter’s state school was rightly proud of its exam results, but it struck me as quite well-balanced compared to the London hothouses attended by friends’ children. Schools like the bluestocking academy where two girls who had a nervous breakdown and anorexia respectively sat their GCSEs while they were sectioned in a psychiatric unit. (Now that’s what I call a sick note.) Then I thought of an acquaintance and her daughter I had bumped into in the street. As the woman babbled happily about how hard Jessica was working for her Oxford place, I tried not to gape at the girl herself. She looked like she had come out of Belsen; sunken eyes, a beard of white down on her bird face, a tiny coat three sizes too big for her. Jessica looked more likely to be heading for an early grave than Balliol. Was the mother out of her mind? What fever of vicarious ambition possessed her that exam results were more important than her child’s health?

 

To read the full article, click the following link:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/11656670/As-in-fear-misery-and-self-harm.html