Child and Adolescent Mental Health – Every child matters!

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The recent dept of Health document “No health without mental health” emphasises the need to prioritise preventative and early intervention services when responding to the mental health needs of young people.

Yet, I believe that people are unaware of the numbers of young people suffering with serious mental health problems.  Mental health promotion for young people is vital, in my opinion; failure to intervene early enough contributes to a life of distress, barriers, and problems for too many young people.  I am aware of many children struggling with the challenges of education, learning and growing up whilst also experiencing low mood, depression, self harm and suicidal thoughts.

More young people are being referred to CAMHS services.  It is worrying that at least 1 in 4 young people are likely to be referred to CAMHS during their childhood or adolescence.  Within the West Midlands CAMHS community and in-patient services for young people have been developed in response to this growing need.

As a CAMHS nurse and a senior lecturer at BCU I believe passionately that the comprehensive health care needs of young people and their families must be integral to our courses.  We must ensure all pre-registration student nurses have opportunities to consider child and adolescent development issues, the importance of attachments and supportive relationships, risk and resilience factors which impact on health, the incidence and nature of mental health and related challenges, the structure, and how to access  CAMHS.

Child and adolescent mental health is “everybody’s business” whether we are engaged directly or indirectly with children and their families.  We have a timely opportunity to integrate this perspective within our student population: tomorrow’s registered nurses.

I hope we do not miss this opportunity.

We also offer a Learning beyond Registration CAMHS pathway as part of our BSc(Hons) Mental Health Studies programme for registered nurses, allied professionals, and other people interested in the health and wellbeing of young people. Please contact me if you are interested in hearing more about our learning beyond registration BSC(Hons) CAMHS pathway.  We are currently planning the two double modules which will be offered during the 2011/12 academic year which is scheduled to commence in October this year.

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5 thoughts on “Child and Adolescent Mental Health – Every child matters!

  1. I totally agree with all the above, but I also think that there is not enough awareness of how distressing it is to be a child of today. Especially when parents who also have had distributive lives them selves & do not always see the cycle they pass on through possible learnt behaviour that is not their fault maybe,or maybe not!

  2. Much as I agree that pre-registration nursing courses should include some teaching on child and adolescent mental health; including raising awareness about the high prevalence of mental health problems within young people and how to access services. I do feel preceding student nurses the target audience for this information should be the children themselves, and also their parents / families.
    As Kim suggests, if there is a pattern of learnt behaviour being passed on through the generations is it not important for parents and carers to be more self aware, and acknowledge the lessons they will be passing on to their children? Are positive relationships / attachments, mental well-being, self-esteem and resilience even considered, let alone advocated in antenatal classes or by midwives?
    If not then, what about in schools?
    I have looked at the national curriculum with interest to see what is included, and am pleased to see citizenship and personal, social and health education are written in. However, it seems bizarre to me that citizenship is only statutory in the secondary curriculum and personal, social and health education is not statutory for either primary or secondary education.
    If citizenship is where children learn about their rights, freedoms and democracy for example. And personal, social and health education is to help promote positive, healthy, fulfilled lives through taking responsibility for the self, boosting self-esteem and making the most of their abilities, why is that not seen as valuable enough to be statutory across the board?!! Would that not in fact be the earliest intervention possible?

  3. This is great news. I have had mental problems for as long as I can remember, but it took a serious breakdown when I was in my 30s to get true help. I’m Indian and there is unfortunately a huge social stigma. It feels good to come out with my own personal experiences as both a doctor and a patient in my own blog. That was truly healing. My child psychiatry rotation was the toughest…to see so many kids suffering. I’m glad to hear we are addressing things at an earlier age.

  4. I think this is a very pertinant topic and totoally agree it needs to be part of school cirriculum but also part of public health information. I think all areas of society need to be informed about mental health/ mental well being and the effects of stress. I think it is an important part of all pre-registration training for all branches of nursing to be able to signpost people who are under stress to self- help literature or web sites if necessary, but to be able to listen effectively is a key skill.
    I think in schools mental well being skills would be a great topic and the effects of anxiety and ways to manage it as this topic is relevant to all and would be good to start giving information, education regarding this topic as young people are developing. It would also help with the stigma if it was part of cirriculum and people learnt to discuss mental health and ill health as a ‘normal process’
    frances Byrne mental health nurse

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