Project to curb child de­pres­sion

Glossop Advertiser - - News - Char­lotte Green

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.

Pic­ture posed by model

Child­hood de­pres­sion is on the rise

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