What is Mental Health?
The Definition of Mental Health
It has become more obvious to me recently that children and young people are increasingly likely to suffer from mental health problems, which impacts their overall well-being. I have been a teaching assistant for 9 years now and early intervention is critical in controlling the trend.
I have heard some people question whether children really experience mental health problems, or is it a label given by adults to explain away or excuse different behaviours? I strongly believe my Autistic son suffers on the edge of depression, but was categorically told by a GP that children can’t get depression. REALLY! It was suggested that it was perhaps instead, a learned behaviour used by young people as a way of gaining attention? SERIOUSLY?
The definition of mental health is very broad and covers all physical and mental states. The Mental Health Act understands these complexities and therefore seeks interventions for treatment that should be least restrictive, least stigmatising, consistent in their effectiveness, with least possible interruption to family, friends or education. It is vital that we work with children and adults quickly, and comprehensively to mitigate the devastating effects mental health can have on a person’s well being. Having said that however receiving a label of having mental health problems could potentially be seen as very disabling, which in some instances could lead to feelings of unmanageable psychiatric difficulties. Although for some, having recognition allows acceptance and does not entail having to try explaining their problems away or even wanting them to go away.
Early Intervention.Mental illness accounts for more life years lost per year than any other health condition in the UK. There are increasing pressures on services to be creative, flexible and be easily accessible while cutting funding, but if early intervention and use of these services can be met it will help to reduce the negative effects that mental health conditions can bring and ultimately reduce associated suicide rates. Fifty percent of lifetime mental illnesses present by the time a child is fourteen years of age. Chronic illness is another factor that can affect a child's mental health, especially if they miss a lot of schooling. My son has not had any schooling so far this academic year. He should be in year 10, but to date, has not been well enough while he undergoes extensive and grueling treatment for a very rare form of Lymphoma. He must spend a large amount of time in hospital and we have applied for home-schooling which can assist with lessening the ramifications on mental health and well-being, both in school and at home.
Additional Learning Needs.Youngsters and adults with learning difficulties face an increased risk of developing mental health problems, compared to typically developing peers. These people are also more likely to be vulnerable and therefore at greater risk of abuse which may in turn present with challenging behaviours. There may also be an underlying physical health problem. The differential diagnosis of challenging behaviour being associated with mental health problems not only impacts the person's health and wellbeing, but also on the family as a whole. The challenging behaviours that are often displayed can either be an atypical presentation of underlying mental health issues or a secondary feature of. Either of which indicates a level of emotional distress that requires attention and support.
Seeking a diagnosis, help or treatment for potential mental health problems is a complex procedure for any individual to navigate and achieve. Referral waiting lists are long and diagnostic processes arduous. Cuts to funding of vital services adds to the problem and more needs to be done to safeguard these budgets.
A mental impairment is one that has a long-term effect of more than twelve months, substantially limiting at least on major life activity, affecting your normal day to day abilities. The subject of mental health and well-being is much less of a taboo topic and is now more openly accepted and talked about. This is in part, thanks to greater awareness being raised with Mental Health Awareness week held during May each year and a World Mental Health day observed in October. Thus, there has been more press attention and focus on the need for more openness, with the It's Okay to Talk campaign run by The Samaritans. A very dear friend of mine took his own life and to this day, I wish there had been these awareness campaigns then.
Hormones.Teenagers and young adults are experiencing a proliferation in demands and stress from numerous external influences such as ever changing exam pressures, the rise of social media use which sees the often misheld belief of a requirement to behave or live in a certain way ultimately proving to be unattainable. Even going through puberty puts added pressure on youngster’s mental health and wellbeing due to the hormonal changes and emerging sexual identity can prove to be very traumatic, in rare cases leading to gender identity disorder.
It can be argued that healthy and happy people are less likely to be a drain on the National Health Service and therefore more likely to be productive employers or employees and taxpayers. Therefore surly by funding services to prevent and treat issues will ultimately pay for themselves in the long term. Prevention is better than cure.
Are you surviving or thriving. Join in the discussion. Add your comments below or connect on social media with #MHAW17 It is OK to talk.