Anger issues, anxiety, bulimia, OCD, self harm - these are just a small number of the mental health issues facing children in the UK.
The Office of National Statistics reports that 1 in 8 children aged 10 to 15 reported symptoms of mental ill-health (2011 to 2012) and with bullying and social media being huge influences on children’s lives it’s more important than ever to give your child the right support if you think they could be struggling.
Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week (February 6-12) aims to encourage adults and kids to spread some kindness to support children’s mental health. So if you’re worried about your child, here are some steps you can take to helping them, and you, get through a difficult time.
Talk to them
Data from the NSPCC shows one in six Childline counselling sessions is now about a serious mental health issue. It’s important to keep communication open with your child if you suspect they are having mental health issues. Reassure them that you love them and are there to support them regardless, however do not force them to tell you what’s wrong or lose your temper or patience with them. It’s an extremely sensitive situation for them and you so remember each child is different and their mental health is incredibly complex.
Speak to a professional
Young Minds offer free, confidential online and telephone support, including information and advice, to any adult worried about the emotional problems, behaviour or mental health of a child or young person up to the age of 25. Young Minds have callers all across the country and in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. You can talk to the caller about anything and they’ll give you clear advice on helping your child. Young Minds reported that 95 per cent of parents found contacting the helpline beneficial
Look after yourself
If your child is going through a difficult time it can be easy to blame yourself or feel like a failure. It’s incredibly hard work looking after and helping a child with mental health issues so remember to look after yourself too and admit to someone if you’re struggling to cope. Talk to a friend, exercise or even just take time to watch a film to help recharge your batteries. If it’s all getting too much however speak to your GP. You don’t have to be the perfect mum or dad but always remember, you’re not a bad parent.
For more advice on supporting children with mental health issues call Young Minds on 0808 802 5544 or visit www.youngminds.org.uk.