Spe­cial­ist help for chil­dren with scars

Evening Times - - NEWS - By HE­LEN McAR­DLE

CHIL­DREN with fa­cial dis­fig­ure­ments such as burns, birth marks and scars are to be of­fered spe­cial­ist psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­port for the first time.

Young­sters will be given help to build their con­fi­dence and cope with anx­i­ety about their ap­pear­ance through a new pae­di­atric ser­vice based at the Royal Hospi­tal for Chil­dren in Glas­gow.

It will be run by Fiona McLeod, who is Scot­land’s first Chang­ing Faces Prac­ti­tioner.

Ms McLeod said: “Around half of chil­dren with a dis­fig­ure­ment have ex­pe­ri­enced bul­ly­ing which can have a dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect on their lives af­fect­ing their men­tal health and well­be­ing.

“My role is to of­fer psy­choso­cial sup­port to chil­dren, young peo­ple and their fam­i­lies in deal­ing with the com­plex med­i­cal and psy­choso­cial dif­fi­cul­ties they face with re­spect to the ap­pear­ance of the child or young per­son.

“See­ing the resilience that many of these chil­dren have fac­ing dif­fi­cul­ties and man­ag­ing their con­di­tions, which can im­pact greatly on their ev­ery­day lives, is in­spir­ing and I am priv­i­leged to be part of their jour­ney.”

The post was ini­tially funded by the char­ity, Chang­ing Faces, but will now be paid for di­rectly by NHS Greater Glas­gow and Clyde.

Ms McLeod is also li­ais­ing with schools to raise aware­ness of the is­sues faced by chil­dren with dis­fig­ure­ments.

It is es­ti­mated that there are around 8000 chil­dren un­der-16 in Scot­land who have a vis­i­ble dif­fer­ence. This can in­clude skin con­di­tions such as eczema, birth marks, acne or epi­der­mol­y­sis bul­losa (EB), which causes the skin to blis­ter and tear eas­ily.

Chil­dren with cran­io­fa­cial con­di­tions such as Apert syn­drome, a ge­netic dis­or­der where skull bones fuse to­gether pre­ma­turely, or young­sters who have sus­tained burns, scars and dis­fig­ure­ments in ac­ci­dents can be re­ferred for sup­port in com­ing to terms with their in­juries.

The ser­vice will also help chil­dren with non-fa­cial birth de­fects such as con­gen­i­tal short­ened fin­gers or ra­dial dys­pla­sis – where the ra­dius bone in the arm is miss­ing or un­der­de­vel­oped, caus­ing the hand to bend to­wards the body.

Sue Robin­son, a Con­sul­tant Clin­i­cal Psy­chol­o­gist who leads NHSGGC’s Pae­di­atric Clin­i­cal Psy­chol­ogy Ser­vice, said dis­fig­ure­ments can re­sult in chil­dren be­ing os­tracised and dis­crim­i­nated against in school, lead­ing to dif­fi­culty mak­ing friends.

These chil­dren are also at greater risk of men­tal health dif­fi­cul­ties, but Ms Robin­son said of­fer­ing sup­port ear­lier in life would re­duce this risk.

She said: “This is help­ing large num­bers of chil­dren and young peo­ple to deal with the ef­fects that liv­ing with a vis­i­ble dif­fer­ence can have on daily life.

“By as­sist­ing these chil­dren and fam­i­lies early in man­ag­ing their cir­cum­stances better, their po­ten­tial need for more spe­cial­ist psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­port in the future is re­duced.”

A new pae­di­atric ser­vice will be based at the Royal Hospi­tal for Chil­dren in Glas­gow

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.