Category: Eating disorder

Let the teachers get on with teaching

Children's mental health at risk
Children’s mental health at risk

teenager-422197_1280So, teachers in secondary schools are to receive mental health training! £200,000 has been pledged by a Government funded scheme known as Mental Health First Aid and the scheme will also be rolled out into primary schools by 2022.  It is fair to say that teachers are on the front line,  not just for safeguarding, but additionally for helping to build resilience in children and young people.

Evidence given in a recent report on Social media and children’s mental health by the Education Policy Institute, demonstrates that 37.3% of UK 15 year olds are classed as extreme internet users (6+ hours daily). Evidence of the correlation between extreme internet use and the harmful effects on young people’s well-being makes teachers uniquely well placed to educate about the strong links between periods spent on social media and mental health and well-being problems. Especially to raise their concerns about vulnerable pupils or pupils who are exposed to problems relating to their mental and emotional well-being.

It is also fair to say that the government should ‘get real’ about the mental health problems facing children and young people. Talking therapies are in desperately short supply and underfunded, specialist services, like CAMHS, have long waiting lists. Dumping the problem onto teachers is a pitifully inadequate way to tackle serious mental health issues affecting our young and which require much more specialist input than schools-based first aid. Teachers already have overwhelming workloads and schedules and are driven to attain high targets. Target crunching is not the mind set required to understand and deal with mental health problems.  To expect teachers to be able to recognise and cope with mental health issues as well, is not only naïve but it undermines the skill and experience of a properly trained mental health professional. How would a teacher be expected to have the time or skills to successfully deal with a child or young person with a full blown psychosis or offer counselling support to a suicidal teenager?

Funding needs to be pumped into specialist mental health services for children and young people so that trained and skilled mental health professionals can meet the needs of children and young people with emotional and mental health problems. Meanwhile, let the teachers get on with what they are trained to do, and do best, which is to educate.

Girls are more likely to be miserable and unhappy, research suggests

Girls more concerned about appearance and looks
Girls are more concerned about their appearance and looks.

Girls spend more time on social media

Girls spend much more time on social media.

There is clear evidence that nowadays our teenage daughters are growing up to be more miserable and unhappy and this is cause for serious concern. The reason is not  because boys are growing up to feel much happier, but because of the longer term risks to girls’ mental health, especially the danger of developing eating disorders and depression.

The reason for girls’ unhappiness may be due to the fact that they spend much more time on social media which has been linked with a higher risk to mental health. Not only are girls more concerned about their appearance and looks, they are also more likely to feel under pressure by emotional bullying. Teenage girls are more likely to take dozens of selfies in an attempt to create a perfect ‘celebrity lookalike’ beautiful photo. They also fear missing out on something if they don’t engage in social media. Such gestures are often indicative of an underlying lack of confidence and an obsession with body image. They feel compelled to play out their social relationships by spending up three hours a night on social media, some obsessively posting images that they hope will make them appear to be perfect.

If this sounds like someone you know and you feel concerned about someone who is unhappy, you can help by advising the person to-

Limit their time spent on social media and ensure that it is being used in a safe way.

You can help boost body confidence by sharing with and talking to a young person.

Encourage them to develop their self-confidence and esteem by rewarding them for praise for kindness shown rather than just about appearance and looks.

 

Are you obsessed with food and weight?

2% of mainly females will develop anorexia nervosa between the ages of 15 and 20, of whom approximately 25% will develop an entrenched anorexia. The signs to look out for, whether you are male or female, are that you spend hours exercising excessively, you are taking in few calories, you are feverishly trying to maintain control of your body,  and you experience intense, obsessional thoughts about food and weight. If this matches you, then it is very likely that you are becoming entrenched in an eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa is largely about control and it can be life-threatening. The more you focus on food and weight, the less rational your thoughts are.

Severe and enduring anorexia nervosa can become a challenging condition and treatment, including the talking therapies, are not always very effective. As a psychiatric condition, it is most successfully treated during the first few years of its course before patterns become entrenched, fixed and habitual. Ultimately if left untreated, hospitalisation may be necessary. In-patient treatment of this nature sometimes results in painfully slow weight gain, agonising hours spent in the dining room, desperately trying to cope with compulsive anorexic thoughts and emotions, (including suicidal ones), and frequently deeply-rooted ambivalence towards treatment.

The potential effects of starvation on the brain may be key in new innovative treatment methods. Recent research using neuro-imaging reveals clues that parts of the brain may be stimulated to bring about recovery, such as the limbic system, which is linked with reward processing and other areas of the brain dealing with body image perception and also which determine the way that we sense internal body states, like hunger or pain. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), using an electrical stimulation technique is in use experimentally and is undergoing trial in the UK. This may be helpful in resetting the brain areas that control eating patterns and decision making processes, resulting in a greater chance of being able to access a psychological therapy. This treatment could potentially be lifesaving and prevent early deaths.

If you are suffering from anorexia or a similar eating disorder such as bulimia, or are worried that you, a friend or relative may have an irregular eating pattern or may be developing an eating disorder, don’t hesitate to seek some professional help and advice before the problem progresses further. You can hear women share their experiences about binge eating problems by clicking here.

For further information follow the links or contact me.

www.anorexiabulimiacare.org.uk

www.eating-disorders.org.uk

www.b-eat.co.uk