TG Escapes Blog

Generation Z need help with their mental health NOW

Mar 5, 2018 | Blog, Education, General

  • FACT-  1 in 10 British children aged 5 to 16 has a clinically diagnosable mental health problem.
  • FACT-  75% of young British people with a mental health problem are not receiving treatment.
  • FACT-  75% of British adults with a mental illness started experiencing problems before the age of 18.

In December 2017 the Government issued a green paper entitled “Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision.’ In it a long list of worthy plans is outlined, including the appointment of a mental health lead in every school and college (supervised and supported by trained NHS mental health professionals) and reducing the time it takes to get treatment to 4 weeks. Which all sounds marvellous, except implementation of the proposals is not expected until 2025.

In the meantime, cuts to funding for many CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) authorities which were implemented as part of austerity measures are continuing. Waiting times have increased and the threshold for those with problems deemed severe enough for CAMHS’ intervention is ever rising, determined by available resources rather than by need.

In response to the Green paper, the Association of Child Psychotherapists has strongly criticised the government’s plans, not least because CAMHS will be expected to provide the supervisory role outlined. In more general terms, the ACP accuses the plans of being based upon ‘false assumptions’ and ‘inadequate’ anticipating they are actually likely to result in ‘adverse consequences and failures’.

Early this year, the children’s charity Barnardos released a report which highlights the current state of children’s mental health. The survey was conducted between 2012 and 2017 and what follows are just some of the disturbing results.

  • Hospital admissions for self-harm amongst 3 to 9 year olds have risen by 27% in the five years to 2017 and the increase is accelerating. The figure for 2017 was up 13% on the previous year.
  • By the age of 16, 70% of school children report feeling sad or anxious at least once a week with nearly a quarter (22%) having negative feelings as much as once a day.
  • By far the largest cited cause of stress and anxiety amongst 12 to 16 year olds is school (around two thirds) followed by concern for their future (42%). For 16 year olds these figures rise to 83% and 80% respectively.

A separate survey conducted by the NAHT last year showed that 56% of teachers who tried to get mental health support for pupils found it difficult and more than 1 in 5 failed. Similarly, a report issued later in 2017 by the Education Policy Institute highlighted that in the previous year more than 50,000 pupils (over 25% of CAMHS referrals) were turned away. Furthermore, when referrals are accepted, young people in many areas are still waiting an unacceptably long time for treatment.

Clearly, there is a desperate need for something to be done before 2025 if a whole cohort of 5 to 18 year olds are not to slip through the net of mental health provision in its current state and embark upon adulthood with poor mental health. A growing number of organisations are attempting to plug the gap, including a brilliant initiative (based in Nottingham at present but with ambitions to roll out significantly) called Education Tree.

The team at Education Tree have a passion and ethos very close to that of TG Escapes. Founded by teachers, Education Tree recognises the ever-growing need for schools to support a child's emotional well-being if they are to reach their full potential. Their trained counsellors deliver tailored sessions that aim to build resilience, boost confidence and arm children with the fundamental skills to cope with life's challenges. The TG Escapes crew wish them every success with their endeavour.

About the author

Consultant at TG Escapes - Mark has spent time growing up with the army, studying computing before the internet existed, and founding The London Classic Theatre Company, self sustaining for over 25 years. He trained in marketing with Unilever before moving into advertising as a strategist with Leo Burnett, Creative Director at Starcom and founder of award winning creative agency Weapon7. He has a passion for eco buildings and helps run the social enterprise Street Wisdom, providing free creative walkshops around the world.

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