PARENTS have been urged to watch for signs that their child is struggling as more children need help with their mental health.
New data showed that NHS mental health referrals for people under 18 increased by 39%.
The data shows that between 2021 and 2022, more than a million children have sought help for issues such as eating disorders, anxiety and depression.
This is comparable to the previous year 2020/21, the year of the pandemic, when the figure was 839,570.
There were 850,741 destinations in 2019/20.
According to Dr Elaine Lockhart, Chair of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the rise in referrals for children and young people reflects a “whole spectrum” of illnesses.
She said “specialized services must respond to the most urgent and most unhealthy situations”, including children with psychosis, suicidal thoughts and severe anxiety disorder.
Data analyzed by the PA news agency showed that the number of children admitted to hospital with an eating disorder is also on the rise.
In March 2022, it also emerged that a record number of young people had entered treatment for eating disorders.
Nearly 10,000 children and adolescents entered treatment between April and December, a quarter more than in the same period last year and almost two-thirds more than before the pandemic.
Dr. Lockhart said emergency admission targets for children with eating disorders are “fully pushed back” and more staff are needed.
“I think what frustrates us is that if we could see them faster and intervene, then the difficulties might not become as serious as they are now, because they had to wait,” she added.
The figures show that among those under 18, there has been an 82% increase in hospital admissions over the past two years, especially for eating disorders.
From April to October 2022, there were 3,456 hospital admissions, up 38% from 2,508 during the same period in 2019, before the pandemic.
From April to October 2020, there were 3,011 hospitalizations and 4,600 during the same period in 2021 when the effects of the lockdown due to the pandemic were fully felt.
Dr. Lockhart added that the stress of the pandemic and the fact that many children saw their parents stressed out made things worse.
Dr. Agnes Ayton, chair of the college’s department of eating disorders, said the patients seen “on the front lines … are usually quite severely ill” and services struggle to keep up with demand.
Dr. Ayton said the hospitalization figures for children and young adults were “downright heartbreaking,” adding: “Without early support, eating disorders become much worse and more difficult to treat, with possible life-changing consequences.”
Signs and symptoms of eating problems can vary from person to person.
BEATUK’s leading eating disorder charity has created dedicated pages to help young people who may be struggling with an eating disorder.
However, a combination of the following symptoms may be a sign that a child may need additional support:
- Preoccupation with checking the calorie content or other ingredients in food
- Eating a limited amount or range of foods
- Binge eating
- More controlling behaviors, such as rules about food, insisting on cooking yourself, or using only certain utensils and utensils.
- Negative self-image regarding one’s weight and/or appearance
- Secretiveness or avoidance of eating with others
- Feeling guilty after eating
- Repeated weighing
- Vomiting after eating or going to the toilet immediately after eating
- Obsessive or excessive exercise
- Abnormally low or high weight, or changes in weight or body shape
- Prolonged stagnation of weight or its inability to grow
- Complaints of poor concentration, dizziness, fatigue, or feeling cold
- Stress while eating
- Bad mood, anxiety or irritability
- social isolation
CHRIS CALLAND and Niki Hutchinson, authors of Dealing with Anxiety in Schools, talk about how to help kids deal with anxiety.
EMOTIONS: Discuss them with your children. Don’t just talk about happy, sad or angry. Include, for example, anxiety, fear, and fright. They need these words to understand how they feel and to know that they can and should feel those emotions.
They need to be happy all the time. Parents want them to be like this, and social media makes them think they should be like that.
Accept the fact that we are not always happy. Explain that all emotions serve a purpose and should not be hidden. Men can also benefit from talking to boys about emotions.
TO PRAISE: When your children talk about their feelings, give them positive feedback. Tell them, “I’m so glad you’re telling me about this.” Let them know it’s good.
LISTEN: As adults, we often downplay worry by saying, “Don’t worry,” or try to relieve their worry by flying in to sort things out.
But prepare them to deal with the problem by saying, “This must be difficult – what can we do?” this is the best approach. Keep calm. If they see that you are panicking, they will get worse.
SLEEP: This has a huge impact on children’s ability to deal with the ups and downs of life. Remove the screens from the bedroom and offer breathing and mindfulness strategies or yoga to help them sleep.
Children aged 7 to 12 should receive 10 to 11 hours, and 12 to 18 years should receive 8 to 9 hours.
If you’re worried that your child may have other mental health issues, Dr. Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Founder of Youth Mental Health Charity. barrel4 Earlier it was said that the signs may not always be obvious.
All children are different, but there are some common depression symptoms to be aware of.
They center around a general feeling of sadness and hopelessness.
Dr. Krause advises paying attention to persistent tearfulness or sadness, as well as hopelessness or changes in sleep patterns.
She added that you may also notice changes in diet, fatigue, your child complains of pain, and he also refuses activities that he once enjoyed.
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Welfare said: “Improving eating disorder services is a key priority and we are investing £53 million annually in eating disorder services for children and youth to empower 70 community groups across the country.
“We are already investing £2.3bn a year in mental health services, which means 345,000 more children and young people will be able to access support by 2024, by which time we aim to increase the number of staff in the area mental health for another 27,000 employees. too.”
If you are concerned about any of your child’s symptoms, you should contact your GP, who can refer you to specialist mental health services in your area.
In an emergency, always call 999 or go to the nearest emergency room.
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