As part of Children’s Mental Health Week, we spoke with ABL Health to see how big a problem the issue is in Salford and why campaigns like this are important.

ABL Health are an organisation active in Salford and Greater Manchester, offering health services on behalf of Salford City Council and NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

One such service, commissioned by Salford City Council, that ABL provide offers counselling in schools for primary and secondary school pupils.

We spoke to Kate Adam, Consultant Counselling Psychologist and Head of Psychology at ABL Health about Children’s Mental Health Week and the current situation surrounding child mental health both nationally and in Salford.


What is Children’s Mental Health Week?

Children’s Mental Health Week is a national campaign ran by charity Place2Be that seeks to help raise awareness of and support children and adolescents suffering from mental health issues.
The campaign, which is in its third year, is focused on the theme of ‘Being Ourselves’ this year, aiming to target low self-esteem in pupils.
Eight out of every 10 pupils Place2Be provide one-to-one support to have suffered from issues of this nature, and the campaign aims to help encourage young people to think positively about themselves.
The campaign has significant backing nationally, including from the Duchess of Cambridge.
Alice Harper, media officer for Place2Be, said: “The theme of this year’s campaign is ‘Being Ourselves’ – encouraging children and young people to feel comfortable with who they are and celebrate what makes them unique.”


Why is it important to support campaigns like Children’s Mental Health Week?

Campaigns like Children’s Mental Health Week’s ‘Being Ourselves’ initiative have a big role to play in helping to offer support to those suffer from mental health.

Mrs Adam explained why ABL Health were supporting the campaign: “We believe it is important to de-stigmatise mental health, promote awareness of early warning signs and facilitate a culture where is it permissible to ask for help and it is encouraged.  Children need to feel empowered, along with their families and schools to be active participants in their mental health, recognising its parity of esteem with physical health.

“Campaigns like this facilitate greater awareness of the issues facing children’s mental health.  Through this we would hope that more children can access support or feel encouraged to talk to someone about their concerns for themselves or others.”

She also emphasised how campaigns like this brought issues like children’s mental health to the attention of adults.

That means not just those affected directly, but to raise awareness in everyone – from teachers, friends and family members to professionals, the media and commissioners – in order to best assist our future generations.

She explained: “We would hope we can ignite others to support this cause, recognising that children are our future and we need to review how best to support them.”

How big of a problem is child mental health nationally and in Salford?

Mrs Adam explained: “Key data on young people in 2017 [produced by the Association for Young Peoples Health] found that three quarters of young people report their life satisfaction as high or very high, however the UK ranks 20th in the life satisfaction scores internationally.

“Half of all lifetime cases of psychiatric disorders start by age 14. There is a shortage of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services provision; despite 10% of the age group having mental health problems, only 24 in 1000 will be referred.”

It’s a very low referral rate, though the data does not take into account the inclusion criteria for these services and their waiting lists.

In 2016 children and young people reported their main concerns as: body image, bullying on and off line, social media, uncertainty around job prospects and stress at school.

As Mrs Adam pointed out: “These worries could lead to; low self-esteem, attention deficits, cognitive disturbances, lack of motivation, negative mood or unhelpful/negative behaviours such as absenteeism which all adversely affect academic development and attainment.

There are also real risks that children that do not access mental health support at the appropriate time could suffer from a wide range of serious issues.

Mrs Adam described how these could include isolation, social exclusion, physical ill health (cancer, heart attacks, stroke), development of unhealthy coping strategies, eating disorders, alcohol addition, behavioural difficulties, self-harm, suicidality, psychosis and depression.

However, despite the big concerns over child mental health, Mrs Adam was keen to point out the hard work being done to help those children and adolescents suffering from mental health.

She said: “There is national drive and government policy to address these issues, now aided by Royal support with their ‘Heads Together’ campaign.”

Major efforts are also being untaken in Salford to help support those with mental health issues.

“In Salford there is a huge amount of work going on, jointly led by the Council and CCG to better understand and meet need, and they have a shared set of ‘Ambitions’ around Emotional Health and Wellbeing.”

For further information and contact information for relevant organisations for parents and carers looking after those with mental health issues can be found here.

What services do ABL Health provide to help children suffering from mental health problems in Salford?

ABL Health have a key role in that work going on, and Mrs Adam was keen to explain what services they provided to help support those with mental health issues.

“ABL Health has a dedicated team of Psychological Therapists lead by a Consultant Psychologist, passionate about working with children, young people, families, and schools.

“We provide a range of support through the schools in Salford, including psychological assessments, drop in clinics, individual counselling, family therapy, group therapy and workshops with the aim of ensuring all students embrace the school experience and achieve their potential. We also offer support for school staff in the form of training and consultation and all interventions are measured in relation to their impact on their emotional and social wellbeing and behaviour through validated tools.”

ABL’s aims through this work is to maximise the educational and social benefits for student growth, whilst building a more healthy and resilient community who can access the support they need at the time that they need it.

Through this work ABL aims to maximise the educational and social benefits for student growth, whilst building a more healthy and resilient community who can access the support they need at the time that they need it.

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