Number of under-18s on antidepressants in England rises by 12%

Data shows over 166,000 were given such medication between April 2015 and June 2016, including 537 aged six or under

Tens of thousands of young people in England, including children as young as six, are being prescribed antidepressants by their doctors. The figures have prompted concern that medics may be overprescribing strong medication because of stretched and underfunded mental health services.

Data obtained by the Guardian shows that 166,510 under-18s, including 10,595 seven-to-12-year-olds and 537 aged six or younger, were given medication typically used to treat depression and anxiety between April 2015 and June 2016. The figures, released by NHS England under the Freedom of Information Act, show a 12% rise in the numbers taking the drugs over the same time period.

Related: Antidepressants prescribed far more in deprived English coastal towns

Related: Antidepressant prescriptions in England double in a decade

Continue reading…

Exam stress rising? No, pupils are just better at seeking help | Laura McInerney

Of course sitting GCSEs can be a trying experience, but with good support, study pressure can be positive

Across the country at the moment, young people are engaging in a practice that will give them nightmares for decades. Nope, not fidget spinners or Snapchat filters: those give only adults nightmares. The real answer is exams.

It’s almost 20 years since my maths GCSE and yet the bad dreams are still the same. No revision done, the exam hall lost in a labyrinth of corridors, the start already missed. I am not alone. Exam anxiety dreams are among the most common in adults. Is it these painful associations, then, that mean a quarter of British parents report their mental health was negatively affected by having children who are currently taking exams? Or is it, as the parents will more often tell you, because watching your child break under the pressure is enough to make anyone sick?

Related: GCSEs and A-levels: how are young people coping with exam stress?

Among boys, the number experiencing any psychological distress has actually gone down

Related: Six tactics to help your students deal with stress

Continue reading…

Women can still have it all. Can’t they? | Victoria Coren Mitchell

Over tea and muffins, I was almost convinced of the case for tighter apron strings. Oh, crumbs!

Last week was a significant one for me because I nearly changed my mind about something. And who ever does that? I didn’t change my mind (nobody ever does, about anything) but I did have – I think – a small insight. I won’t say “epiphany”. Not least because I find it hard to pronounce. But I will say insight.

It came about over a cup of tea with a friend, whom I won’t name for fear that people will find her on Twitter and shout at her. Let’s just call her @elspeth157. I’m joking. We’ll call her Janet.

Continue reading…

Teenagers’ sleep quality and mental health at risk over late-night mobile phone use

Researchers advise ‘physical boundaries’ over devices in bedrooms after study finds poor sleep associated with phone use linked to depressed moods

Teenagers’ late-night mobile phone use is harming their sleep and potentially their mental health, say researchers who advised that “physical boundaries” be set over use of such devices in the bedroom.

A longitudinal study of 1,101 Australian high school students aged between 13 and 16 found poor-quality sleep associated with late-night texting or calling was linked to a decline in mental health, such as depressed moods and declines in self-esteem and coping ability.

Related: Vaguebooking? Subtweeting? Supertweeting? Why can’t we just say what we mean online?

Related: Scientists believe the secret of a good night’s sleep is all in our genes

Continue reading…

Popular social media sites ‘harm young people’s mental health’

Poll of 14- to 24-year-olds shows Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter increased feelings of inadequacy and anxiety

Four of the five most popular forms of social media harm young people’s mental health, with Instagram the most damaging, according to research by two health organisations.

Instagram has the most negative impact on young people’s mental wellbeing, a survey of almost 1,500 14- to 24-year-olds found, and the health groups accused it of deepening young people’s feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.

Related: Social media and bullying: how to keep young people safe online

Continue reading…

Louise Emanuel obituary

Consultant psychotherapist who worked with traumatised children worldwide

Louise Emanuel, who has died aged 63 from sporadic prion disease, also known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), was a consultant child and adolescent psychotherapist of international repute who had a gift for helping damaged children and their parents. She was also recognised for her pioneering role in setting up early intervention services abroad.

Based at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust in north London, where she took over leading the Under Fives Services in 2000, Louise developed their pre-existing psychoanalytic model of short-term work offering sessions with under-fives and their parents, and exported it around the world, helping to set up similarly successful models in Greece, Italy, Turkey, Ireland, Australia and her native South Africa.

Continue reading…

Supporting LGBTI pupils: ‘It’s important a school is ready for anyone’

Schools today are much more receptive to students’ gender and sexual orientation, and are places where diversity is celebrated rather than scorned

It was not long ago that LGBT pupils at the Priory School in Hitchen, Hertfordshire, hid behind a mask of silence. Fellow students used the word “gay” to describe something that was rubbish. Faced with homophobic language, they felt unable to come out in the classroom and kept their true identities secret.

Three years later, dozens of students have come out thanks to a “massive culture shift” in school. Today, diversity and inclusion are celebrated across all aspects of school life: from the setting up of an LGBT drop-in group and appointment of an LGBT student champion, to changes in the curriculum and the building of gender-neutral toilets and changing rooms. Indeed, the school has established such a reputation for equality it is attracting transgender pupils from neighbouring areas.

Related: Growing up transgender: ‘I wish I could have come out younger’

Continue reading…

‘Shattering stigma starts with simple conversations’: tackling the child mental health crisis

From online counselling to a texting service offered by school nurses and free wellbeing courses, providing support for young people needn’t break councils’ budgets. Sarah Johnson reports on a roundtable discussion

Public concern around child and adolescent mental health is at an all-time high. The prime minister, Theresa May announced in January her intention to better identify and help the growing number of young people in schools who are at risk of developing mental health issues. Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, meanwhile, are using their profiles to convince the public that “shattering stigma on mental health starts with simple conversations”.

And yet, despite growing awareness of the issue, child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs) are under an increasing amount of pressure. Healthcare professionals bemoan a lack of resources and staff while health secretary Jeremy Hunt has described Camhs as the “biggest single area of weakness of NHS provision”.

Related: Quarter of a million children receiving mental health care in England

Related: Psychiatrists attack ‘scandal’ of child mental health spending

Continue reading…

7 out of 10 children with mental health problems are treated outside home area

Number of young patients admitted to hospitals away from their local region has increased from 57% to 69% in a year, say NHS England figures

Seven out of 10 children with serious mental health problems are being treated outside their home area, according to NHS figures.

Around 69% of young patients were admitted to hospitals away from their local region in 2016/17, up from 57% the year before, an investigation by the British Medical Association (BMA) has found.

Related: Children’s mental health: a mother’s campaign to be by her daughter’s side

Continue reading…

Labour would ban junk food adverts during TV popular with children

The measure would be part of a £250m-a-year scheme to make UK youngsters the healthiest in the world

Adverts for junk food and sweets will be banned from hit TV shows including The X Factor, Hollyoaks and Britain’s Got Talent under Labour plans to tackle childhood obesity.

Related: Junk food ads targeting children banned in non-broadcast media

Continue reading…

Five priorities for improving children’s mental health | Paul Burstow

The mental wealth of the nation is critical to our future – young people’s mental wellbeing should be paramount

The mental health of the nation is built on foundations laid in the early years of our lives. Yet our mental health system is designed and funded to pay the price of our failure to act on the evidence and invest in the right family support in those childhood years.

We go through many life changes and transitions in our childhood and teenage years. It’s why the age of 18 is the wrong time for child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs) to “hand over” to adult services. A joint report by the health and education select committees has turned the spotlight on the role schools can play.

Related: We’re working with children in care to improve mental health | Tony Hunter

Related: Mental health services won’t help children in temporary care settings

Continue reading…

A supportive, loving community can help heal neglected children | Emma Colyer

Research suggests children exposed to neglect or abuse suffer poor health as adults and die sooner. We need to address the causes, not treat the symptoms

Our childhood stays with us throughout our lives. We know this intuitively, from the shiver that can accompany memories of an upsetting event from our early years even into adulthood. But it is also true in a much deeper way.

The Adverse Childhood Experience (Ace) study, carried out in the US in the 1990s, found that children exposed to serious neglect, abuse or household dysfunction were at significantly greater risk of a litany of poor health and social outcomes, ranging from heart disease, liver disease and sexually transmitted diseases to depression, suicide attempts and intimate partner violence. Most starkly, people with a high score on the Ace scale died on average nearly 20 years earlier [pdf] than their counterparts who reported no childhood adversity.

Related: Why secure early bonding is essential for babies

If the right questions are not being asked, we cannot expect to find the right answers

Related: How childhood stress can knock 20 years off your life

Continue reading…

Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why prompts rise in charity counselling for children

NSPCC says some children who have received Childline counselling said series triggered memories of suicidal thoughts

A children’s charity is providing a growing number of counselling sessions for young people concerned about the content of the Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why.

The NSPCC said some children who had received counselling via its Childline service said the series had triggered memories of suicidal thoughts. Others were worried that the programme did not offer advice on how to help someone who was feeling suicidal.

Related: Netflix show condemned for ‘romanticising’ teenager’s suicide

Continue reading…

‘I was dehumanised’: Lemn Sissay on hearing his harrowing abuse report live on stage

In a blistering one-off show, poet Lemn Sissay heard – for the first time – the record of his suffering as a child in care. He explains why the theatre was the safest place to relive his beatings and betrayal

I have never been in a theatre audience like this one – so loving, supportive, involved. Then again, there has probably never been a production quite like this. It is the ultimate verbatim theatre. What’s more, part of the verbatim is happening live, unscripted, in front of us.

Lemn Sissay’s The Report, at the Royal Court in London, is just that: the reading of – and his reaction to – the psychologist’s report about the abuse he suffered over 18 years as a child in the care system. It is a one-off production. This is, by turns, theatre as shock treatment, theatre as therapy, theatre as protest and, perhaps ultimately, theatre as survival. We come away with a microscopically detailed portrait of the poet – and the system that did its best to destroy him.
Sissay, now 49, was born to an Ethiopian mother in Wigan. She was a young woman – a girl really – who had come to study in Britain and found herself pregnant. She was placed in a mother and baby unit and, at two months old, Sissay was put in care. His mother was asked to sign adoption papers and refused – she wanted her son back when she could manage better. Social services ignored her wishes, telling his long-term foster parents to treat this as adoption. Sissay was renamed Norman by his social worker, who happened to be called Norman.

Related: Lemn Sissay: ‘I would die if I didn’t live in the present’

At the end, everyone cheers. You sense they would rather just hug Sissay

Open all doors.
Open all senses.
Open all defences.
Ask, what were these closed for?

Continue reading…

Schools cutting mental health services to plug funding gaps, warn MPs

Services to support children’s wellbeing are ‘first thing to go’ when budgets are under pressure, parliamentary inquiry hears

Cash-strapped schools are cutting mental health services such as counsellors and pastoral provision as they try to cover funding gaps, two influential groups of MPs have said.

The health and education select committees joined forces for the inquiry, which called on the government to look at the impact of budget cuts on mental health services for children.

Continue reading…