By Jaime Essed, Founder & CEO of Oh My Mood UK Ltd
Saturday 7th of April marked World Health Day 2018. Organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) the focus was on Universal Health Care to ensure that all people and communities receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship. It can be tempting to dismiss the initiative as irrelevant in a country like the UK, but increasing numbers of people in richer countries in Europe are spending at least 10 percent of their household budget on out-of-pocket health expenses.
The British Medical Association found that increasing numbers of mental health patients are sent out of their area for treatment (up by 40% in 2016-2017 compared to 2014/2015). With some patients sent more than 500 miles away, this places a huge strain on their recover if friends or family can’t visit; and places the financial burden on those willing to make the round trip.
The mental health crisis is spiralling out of control and more needs to be done on early prevention in mental health, especially amongst young people.
Currently, one in 10 children and young people suffer from a mental health condition with more than half of cases starting before the age of 14. Yet, three out of four children with mental health problems did not receive the help they needed last year.
The government has pledged £1.7 billion towards mental health care and promised to boost mental health provision within schools. However, it will take a while for the money to be released and by 2022 only one in four schools in England is expected to have the provision in place. In the meantime too many young people are missing out on the vital support they need right now.
Regional health trusts can’t afford to wait for the government and should instead look at alternatives. Our young people are digital natives whose lives are intrinsically linked to the Internet. Regional health trusts, clinicians, universities and health platforms must work together to develop digital tools that can complement traditional mental health treatment programmes.
A blended care approach, where digital solutions support (not replace!) face-to-face therapies improve the quality of care and makes mental health therapy scalable and more efficient.
The next generation deserves a fair chance, and we owe it to them put the right mental health support in place. It will not only help them, but it will also ease the strain on care practitioners without adding more pressure on NHS budgets.
Five top tips to support healthy minds
Dr Sarah Parry, Clinical Psychologist and Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University gives the following tips for parents and carers of children:
- Recognise behaviours as communications – what is the child telling you they need?
- Breathe, observe and self-care – are there stressors affecting you or the child that could be reduced or removed?
- Create space to talk and listen – finding the words to describe difficult feelings can be hard for children and adults. Compassionate listening and time spent together can offer a platform for difficult conversations.
- Share skills – what life skills could you share with the young person to help them through difficulties. For example, naming emotions, channelling powerful feelings into sports or the arts, asking for help, making friends, etc.
- Don't go it alone - children's worlds can be complicated and their environments at home, school and with their peers can all contribute towards a young person's wellbeing. Parents/carers and teachers may need to work together with the young person to support them as a team. Also, make use of reliable resources online for information (e.g. the NSPCC, Mind, and YoungMinds)
Recognise Needs - Create Space - Self-care and Support - Share Skills - Teamwork
Dr Sarah Parry can be found on Twitter: @drSarahParry