Like our physical health, our mental health can change over time and just because someone has had a mental health problem at some point in their lives it doesn’t mean it will always be with them.
A mental health problem can happen to anyone, it doesn’t matter how old you are or what gender you are. Sometimes a problem develops after something traumatic, such as a death, or sometimes it just happens out of the blue.
The important thing to remember is that it’s not uncommon – 1 in 10 young people have a diagnosable mental health condition.
The key agency which offers support for a mental health and wellbeing concern is CAMHs (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service). This NHS specialist service offers general advice as well as specific teams for particular conditions. The following pages might be useful:
Every child and every family are different so what is difficult for one family is not for another. There is no reason why a divorce should affect your children negatively. In fact most of the negative affects can be avoided through ensuring parents do not allow children to become involved as ‘pawns’ or caught between conflict.
A death is obviously upsetting but children are often more upset by seeing adults they are not used to every being upset being very emotionally. Being open about this can be helpful for a child. If fact them seeing parents coping positively with loss helps them understand the intensity of loss does pass. Children often have lots of practical questions about bodies or what happens at death. Many parents often worry if a child should attend a funeral or not. There is no easy answer to this but a solution could be to talk to you child to see how they feel about it. They may also have never experienced a funeral before so helping them know what to expect can be helpful.
It is also really important to share this news with school – either classroom staff or the headteacher in the case of more personal, sensitive situations. Only staff who need to know will be informed so they are well place t offer a little extra time, a listening ear, care or comfort. They will also make allowances about work, tolerance or temper whilst a child copes with how they feel.
If things get more serious or a child seems to get into a pattern of negative wellbeing them, if you haven’t already, it is important to talk to staff at school. You child’s classteacher should always be the first port of contact, especially if the issue seems to involve peers or learning- teachers are best placed to address this and put into place changes. However, Mr Woolley who holds a number of roles (Designated Safeguarding Lead, Special Educational Needs Coordinator, Designated lead for looked after children, mental wellbeing lead) is well placed to consider all of a child’s needs and potentially refer to other agencies for support. Therefore arranging a meeting to discuss your child’s needs would be a priority.
Discuss your child’s needs or difficulties with your GP. They may be able to offer support or signpost other agencies as well as ruling out any medical reasons for the need.
Parents (and children/ teenagers themselves) can self-refer into CAMHs https://www.sussexpartnership.nhs.uk/CAMHS-referral for help using the simple referral form or calling 0300 304 0050 Mon-Fri between 9am-5pm. All referrals, from either school, GPs or parents go to a single point of access where a referral team of trained mental-health workers will look at the symptoms and behaviours described. They will look at how the individual but also the family is being affected and recommend the most appropriate support.
If you are worried before an appointment comes through, phone 0300 304 0050.
In an emergency or if you are concerned about the immediate safety of your child or anyone around them, go straight to A&E at your local hospital.
The following organisation, charities and contacts may be useful:
Parentline 0808 802 5544
Samaritans 116 123
Childline: 0800 1111
Hampshire County Council Children’s Services: 0300 555 1384