Project to curb child depression
CHILDREN as young as five are struggling with serious depression and other mental health problems in Oldham, according to a report.
The number of troubled youths attempting suicide and self-harm is also on the rise across the borough. Health chiefs estimate that more than 3,800 children in Oldham have a mental health disorder – and one in every 15 deliberately self-harms.
Anxiety disorders are thought to affect around 1,200 children, with 40 kids aged between five and ten believed to be seriously depressed.
In 2016/17, there were 151 hospital admissions for people aged under 24 who had self-harmed.
Oldham’s Health and Wellbeing Board has now signed off on a plan to transform the borough’s child and adolescent mental health services.
Already 12 additional staff have been hired to slash waiting times for mental health appointments to six weeks, from 20 weeks in October 2015. And a specialist mental health school adviser has been hired to make sure primary and secondary school pupils with mental health difficulties get the right treatment and support. Oldham Sixth Form College has recently begun offering drop-in counselling for its students, as well as mindfulness workshops.
But Oldham council and the town’s clinical commissioning group (CCG) have revealed that more needs to be done to help struggling youngsters. “Local anecdotal evidence suggests there has been a rapid increase in the number of reported self-harm/suicide incidents and hospital attendances/admissions for young people,” a joint report states.
“In addition, there has been an increase in the number of children and young people requiring emotional wellbeing and mental health support across the borough as a whole.”
Failure to support young people with their mental health ‘costs lives and money’, and early intervention is needed to stop them falling into crisis, they add. In just six months, 622 referrals were received at Healthy Young Minds – the NHS child and adolescent mental health services in Oldham.
One cause of early mental health issues such as social phobias and low self-esteem may stem from problems with communication in early childhood, the report says.
It reveals that in some deprived areas of Oldham, 50 per cent of children are starting school with communication and language skills that are ‘poorly developed’ – known as ‘impoverished language’.
There has also been an increase in demand for crisis care, as more young people turn to out-ofhours services such as A&Es for urgent help. There is a specific ‘place of safety’ at the Royal Oldham Hospital for children and young people to use when they are in a state of crisis.
This is to address what the report describes as the ‘wholly unacceptable practice’ of taking youngsters under 18 who have been detained under the Mental Health Act to police cells.
Childhood depression is on the rise