Thursday, 2 July 2015

On how to properly help children with mental health issues and my tribute to Sir Nicholas Winton

Readers, last night you may have watched a programme entitled 'Kids In Crisis' on Channel Four. This programme has highlighted the severe lack of local provision for children needing psychiatric treatment in many parts of Britain, especially in Cornwall and Northern Ireland.

Relocating children hundreds of kilometres away from their parents so they can get the treatment they need can actually harm their recovery in the long-term, as can shifting them multiple times when the money spent on the moves and of housing children so far from home could easily be spent on more localised units.

Here is what I believe needs to be done to help tackle mental health issues within childhood and adolescence in Britain (remember, many mental health conditions have a childhood cause):

1. The creation of a young adult mental health services division (for people aged 16-25). The automatic transferral of a patient as soon as they turn 18 from adolescent to adult mental health services is problematic and can prove detrimental to their long-term recovery. This is because in today's society, the period of young adulthood is now separate from childhood, adolescence, and adulthood in its own right, and young adults feel different psychosocial pressures to older adults (those over the age of 25). People with mental health conditions are people as well, and they will usually want to socialise with their peers (especially when younger) rather than those considerably older or younger than they are.

2. Healthcare, especially regarding mental health, needs to be in the community and be as localised as is possible. Not only does it cost large amounts of money (and travel time for NHS doctors, psychiatrists etc.) to house children who need help so far from their families, it also hurts children and their families overall even if the treatment they are getting is sufficient for their needs. People with mental health conditions should be able to get help as locally as possible, and all counties and major cities within Britain should have at least one specialised centre.

3. We as a whole need to be more appreciative of children and what childhood really means. If we appreciated our children more, stopped the negative portrayal of young people within the media, and did not put our children under so much pressure in social and academic life, we can fundamentally lower incidence of mental illness within childhood.

On another, unrelated note, I wish to pay tribute to Sir Nicholas Winton, who sadly passed away at the age of 106 yesterday. Sir Nicholas will be best remembered for rescuing 669 children in the Czech Republic (part of Czechoslovakia then) in 1939, which was a key part in the Kindertransport mission by the British to rescue as many (predominantly Jewish; Sir Nicholas was born to German Jewish parents) children from the Nazis, and thus save them from the Holocaust. His feat also been commemorated in three films by Matej Minac, produced in 1999, 2002, and 2011 respectively.

Alan.

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