Children are precious to us especially if you are a parent to one. It is why seeing your own sweat and blood suffer from some inner demons seem unbearable for any parent. But that is the reality a lot of kids now face. As the population balloons, it isn’t a guarantee that they’ll have the support they need as they brave each new day in their life. Bullying has worsened because it has now taken a new platform – digital. And kids these days often have their own smart gadgets and access to Internet 24/7 that exposes them to a different type of danger.
It becomes even doubly harder for the youth to cope to all these clutter in our modern world because aside from busy parents and guardians that are no longer able to fulfill their obligation of rearing and guiding a child, kids end up confused and easily swayed by negative people. Mental health issues take different forms and it is difficult to spot one especially that kids these days lead more solitary lives – lost in their own little virtual bubble. It should challenge adults, though, to reach out to their children and make them feel that help is just readily available whenever they need one and that they should not hesitate in asking whenever they feel down or broken.
The failure to find a specialist bed for a suicidal and vulnerable young woman leaving youth custody is at the heavy end of a much wider problem facing mental health services for young people (Senior judge warns of ‘blood on our hands’, 4 August).
First, there are territorial injustices in young people’s access to child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs) when problems arise. This often results in long delays in receiving preventive services, sometimes to the point where they just give up hope and suffer in silence while their problems get worse.
Second, there is evidence some vulnerable young people moving on from Camhs at 18 are unable to access the adult mental health services they desperately need, often until a crisis occurs. This is a consequence not just of staff shortages but also differences between adult services and Camhs in their thresholds for services: whereas the former is based on meeting a strict clinical diagnosis, for the latter, the threshold is usually general “wellbeing”. This reflects a failure to have a seamless link between child and adult care services during young people’s transitions to adulthood.
Suicide remains to be a major issue that the youth has to deal with. Young people who feel lost and can no longer cope resorts to taking their own lives just to put an end to their misery. And despite all the initiative of both the public and private sector to lend a helping hand in guiding lost children, many still think of suicide as their only choice. If children feel this way, then where have we gone wrong? For sure, somewhere along the way, their parents and significant others have failed their kids leaving them with suicide as their only option in life.
At first, the idea that such a young child could benefit from mental health services might seem puzzling, even counterintuitive. How can we expect a preschooler, especially one under age 5, to “get on the couch” and discuss her problems with a therapist? Why would she be able to talk about her troubled childhood when she has barely lived it?
Yet early childhood mental health services do exist, and they are increasingly seen as a vital and effective part of supporting the emotional development of troubled children.
Mental health issues can emerge between birth and five due to triggers including domestic violence, violence in the community, constant stress in the home, homelessness, poverty — or a toxic combination of these elements. When young children struggle with their emotions, they frequently go into “fight or flight” mode, which can overwhelm parents and teachers. These signs are easy to misinterpret, and can result in kids who are simply reacting to anxiety and stress being labeled as “bad.”
Are parents and the people in their immediate environment failing in rearing kids who know how to cope with the limitations and challenges of living? Children are overexposed to violence on TV and on the web and even in their surroundings. Society makes it appear that violence is okay and they should just learn to live with it. Hence, they feel ashamed to tell other people about their problems or issues thinking that others would see them as weak and incompetent.
It is the same thing at school or at home, their feelings are ignored as their busy parents juggle multiple tasks at once. Then, these kids see things they are not supposed to see online that further messes up with their mind along with the increasing demands from them to perform better at school. But now that we are aware of this issue, let this remind us of our responsibility to pitch in and offer support to kids and make them feel they can tell us anything so they no longer have to think of suicide as the best choice they can ever make.