Main types of mental health needs in children and young people

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Conduct disorders (E.g. defiance, aggression, anti-social behaviour, stealing and fire-setting) – Overt behaviour problems often pose the greatest concern for practitioners and parents/carers, because of the level of disruption that can be created in the home, school and community. These problems may manifest themselves as verbal or physical aggression, defiance or anti-social behaviour.

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Anxiety – Anxiety problems can significantly affect a child’s ability to develop, to learn or to maintain and sustain friendships. Children and young people may feel anxious for a number of reasons – for example because of worries about things that are happening at home or school, or because of a traumatic event. Symptoms of anxiety include feeling fearful or panicky, breathless, tense, fidgety, sick, irritable, tearful or having difficulty sleeping.

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Depression – Feeling low or sad is a common feeling for children and adults, and a normal reaction to experiences that are stressful or upsetting. When these feelings dominate and interfere with a person’s life, it can become an illness. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, depression affects 2% of children under 12 years old, and 5% of teenagers.

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Hyperkinetic disorders (e.g. disturbance of activity and attention) – Although many children are inattentive, easily distracted or impulsive, in some children these behaviours are exaggerated and persistent, compared with other children of a similar age and stage of development. When these behaviours interfere with a child’s family and social functioning and with progress at school, they become a matter for professional concern.

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Attachment disorders – Attachment is the affectionate bond children have with special people in their lives that lead them to feel pleasure when they interact with them and be comforted by their nearness during times of stress.

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Eating disorders – The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Eating disorders can emerge when worries about weight begin to dominate a person’s life. Someone with anorexia nervosa worries persistently about being fat and eats very little. They lose a lot of weight and if female, their periods may stop.

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Substance misuse – Substance misuse can result in physical or emotional harm. It can lead to problems in relationships, at home and at work. In the clinical field, a distinction is made between substance abuse (where use leads to personal harm) and substance dependence (where there is a compulsive pattern of use that takes precedence over other activities). It is important to distinguish between young people who are experimenting with substances and fall into problems, and young people who are at high risk of long-term dependency.

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Deliberate self-harm – Common examples of deliberate self-harm include ’overdosing’ (self-poisoning), hitting, cutting or burning oneself, pulling hair or picking skin, or self-strangulation. The clinical definition includes attempted suicide, though some argue that self-harm only includes actions which are not intended to be fatal. It can also include taking illegal drugs and excessive amounts of alcohol. It can be a coping mechanism, a way of inflicting punishment on oneself and a way of validating the self or influencing others.

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Post-traumatic stress – If a child experiences or witnesses something deeply shocking or disturbing they may have a traumatic stress reaction. This is a normal way of dealing with shocking events and it may affect the way the child thinks, feels and behaves.

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If you have any concerns in regard to your / your child’s emotional wellbeing and mental health, please do not hesitate to contact Mr Amran, Deputy Head Teacher (Pastoral) using the email link below.ff
sam@woodlandsschool.essex.sch.uk

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CLICK HERE for links to some national support and information services offering assistance for child mental health issues

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