Teenagers kept in temporary mental health units for over a year

More than half of young people have reported that they are staying in mental health units for longer than the recommended stay of six months.

According to campaigners and the young people’s parents, these long stays are damaging the mental health of young people further.

Psychiatric intensive care units (PICUs) are acute hospital wards which admit people who have reached crisis point. Patients may be suicidal, violent or experiencing psychotic episodes.

Ferndene hospital in Northumberland runs one of the only PICUs in the country with an outstanding rating from the regulator the Care and Quality Commission.

They are focusing on equipping young people with the skills they need and they hold meetings with everyone to ensure that the children who are there do not stay their longer than they need to.

An NHS spokesperson said: “At least 20 additional PICU beds have been commissioned, and while transformation won’t happen overnight, this work is starting to make a difference.”

Help ends abruptly at milestone birthday for young people

Thousands of young adults who are suffering from mental illnesses, find the help they are receiving suddenly stops at a significant birthday.

Child services that offer care and support for those needing extra help often end the moment the child reaches between the ages of 16 and 21 years old.

Those that have reached this age are often left to their own devices despite still requiring ongoing support and care for their mental well being. Those who do end up in adult care, however, often feel as though they are neglected and poorly looked after.

Numbers show as many as 75% of young people in the UK and just over 30% across Europe are considered to require further counselling and support for their mental health.

Young adults are feeling let down by the system

This can lead to many young individuals lacking in the confidence to move on with their lives by getting a job, applying to college or university or finding and maintaining relationships.

The experiences of a thousand young people leaving the care of child and adolescent mental health services (CAHM) and moving to adult mental health services (AHM) are being followed in several European countries which includes the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Belgium and Italy.

The features of these stories are surprisingly similar:

  • Young people are being discharged at 18 and not given other options
  • They are having to persuade adult services that they need further support
  • They are having decisions being made about them, without them knowing
  • They are repeatedly being told that they are not considered ‘ill enough’ for further care or that they are now fine

The most common mental health problems that young people face are anxiety and depression, with girls who are 14 and above more likely to face these issues than boys.

Not being able to find help quickly enough has had tragic consequences. Nearly one in five deaths among 15 to 19 year olds are caused by self-inflicted wounds.

If these issues are left untreated the long-term risks for these young people can include: poor grades at school, higher risk of addictive behaviours, increase of violent tendencies and a higher risk of unemployment.

This can create stressful situations amongst the child’s parents who are left wondering what they can do to help while their child waits for professional care as the signs can be challenging to spot.

Robert Scullion, a Student Engagement Officer at City of Glasgow College believes that services should be improved and parents are important in getting help for their children.

He said: “People also need attention; young people often think they are in the world on their own and they may perceive that they have to have all the answers for everything. So just reassuring and say that it is okay not to know and it is okay to be upset. It is okay to feel confused, it is all normal.”

Young adults face different levels of independency and career paths and are often caught between two fairly different services, one that considers them as still part of a family group and one that considers them as adults and can be given advice without family members being present, unless given permission.

It has also been noted that young people often lack the understanding of adult services, feel insecure about moving from an area where they are familiar with and dread being in an unfamiliar system with unfamiliar people.

Teenagers do not get informed about the transmission between child and adult help centres

Transitions that do occur are often abrupt and poorly planned out and this can result in further confusion and this has been linked to a higher risk of disengagement from services and discontinuity of care.

There have been some positive steps forward to try and resolve the issue in many countries such as Germany which has created a “task-force” to help improve the care of young people between services.

In the UK, some universities have taken steps to help improve mental health in students after there was a concern about the high number of suicides at universities across the UK.

It is important to find out what works – and does not work- amongst young adults when it comes to their mental state which can help improve care in the future.

Scullion also added: “People nowadays live in a society where it is quite predominant for people to talk now about how we feel. Most people often think they are alone and it is only them that the problem is occurring for. They don’t realise there is a majority of folk that think the same, so once they start to realise that, it takes a lot of pressure off of them and allows them to see their lives differently.”

As it is estimated that 50% of mental health problems are established by the age of 14, it is an important area to be focusing on.

It is advised that parents of children who are waiting to seek professional help observe their children and note down any changes as they are often the ones that help start the process of getting the help their child needs.

Help ends abruptly at milestone birthday for young people

Teens are sleeping less and are more depressed

Young people are more likely to feel depressed and sleep less than 10 years ago, a new study suggests.

It also found that other issues such as drinking and smoking, often linked to mental health issues, are not as commonly in 14 year olds in 2015.

Young people who hurt themself rose over 10% and girls were more likely to harm themselves than that of boys.

Teenagers were also falling asleep later and then getting up earlier so many are not getting the recommended sleep of eight hours.

Anxiety in Young People Rising

A recent survey, conducted by YouGov, shows that 18% of young people do not believe life is worth living anymore.

An overwhelming pressure from social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter has said to be the cause of young people feeling low.

Rise in young people not feeling life is worth living due to pressure from social media platforms

In 2009, only 9% of 16-25 year olds thought that life was not worth living but this has now doubled to 18% and it is also estimated that a quarter that their life has a purpose, according to a YouGov survey, a charity that young people into education, work and training.

Nearly 60% of young people think that social media creates an “overwhelming pressure” to succeed.

However, there is some positive sides to this story as some young people enjoy using social media as it allows them to voice their thoughts and feelings about their generation and more than a quarter said it made them happy.

Growing Up in Dirty Air Increases Risk of Depression

A new study shows that children living in areas of high pollution are more likely to develop major depression by the time of their 18th birthday.

The scientists said their findings are particularly significant because 75% of mental health problems begin in childhood or adolescence, when the brain is developing rapidly.

“High levels of air pollution are just not good for you, and particularly for your children, whether that be physical or mental health,” said Helen Fisher at Kings College London, who led the research.

Further studies are needed to be done but there is definitely an issue of high pollution in cities across the UK particular in those living in urban areas.

Parent’s Break-Ups Can Harm Mental Health in Children

Children are more likely to face mental problems after parents separate…

Parental separation is more likely to harm the mental health of children and a study has shown a rise of emotional problems by 16%.

The research, involving 6,245 children and young people in the UK, is the first British study to explore the links between couple separation or divorce and the impact on the mental wellbeing of children.

Children aged 14 at the time of the split have been shown to have an eight percent increase in conduct disorders and are more likely to show emotional problems such as anxiety and depression.

Prof Emla Fitzsimons, of the Institute of Education at University College London and co-author of the study, said: “Family splits occurring in late, but not early, childhood are detrimental to adolescent mental health. One possible reason for this is that children are more sensitive to relationship dynamics at this age.”

Fitzsimons and her colleague, Aase Villadse, analysed 6,245 children involved in the Millennium Cohort Study, which is tracking the health of young people born at the start of the century.

Dr Nick Waggett, chief executive of the Association of Child Psychotherapists has stated: ” It may be that parents who are occupied with issues of separation as a couple at the point the child moves into adolescence are less able to provide the emotional support that the child needs to negotiate their own process of separation and development towards adulthood.”

Teenagers Can Use Mobile Apps For Mental Health

Teenagers are turning to mobile phone apps as well as online counselling in order to get the help that they need.

There are thousands of young people struggling with their mental health and many are too scared to seek help which has resulted in them turning to online sources.

According to an article written by The Guardian, “…roughly 123,138 people in the UK downloaded Calm Harm, an NHS-approved app that helps people self-harm less often or not at all, between April 2017 and this month.”

The app was created in 2015 and was created to help those suffering from eating disorders as well as other compulsive disorders.

There are still less than half (37%) of young people not seeking the help that they require but with apps like this, it may help encourage those that are uncomfortable getting help get the help they they deserve.

Other free apps that can be used for to help those that need help for their mental wellbeing include:


Catch It

Mental Health Recovery Guide

Remember that seeing a professional is sometimes all it takes to get better and if you are feeling down or suffering from horrible thoughts, seek help.