Mid-Ulsterís youth seek most mental health help.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

MORE young people in Mid-Ulster have been referred to Children and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) services than others across Northern Ireland, according to the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People.

The two Health Trusts that serve Mid-Ulster, the Northern and Southern Health and Social Care Trusts, saw a combined 3,658 children and young people referred to mental health services in 2015/16.

The figures show that the Northern Trust also had the largest number of young people referred to mental health services in Northern Ireland in 2013/14 and 2014/15.

Although the number of referrals in the Northern Trust fell substantially in 2015/16, it still had the highest number of referrals in that period.

There were 2,031 young people referred to mental health services in 2014/15 compared with 1,846 in 2015/16.

The Southern Trust has the second highest number of referrals across the Province and saw a dramatic increase in referrals in 2015/16.

In 2014/15 the number of referrals made by the Southern Trust was 1,360. In 2015/16 that number had risen to 1,812.

Referring to the figures, one of the co-founders of the local Niamh Louise Foundation, Catherine McBennett, in an interview with the Courier, said: "If they feel they can talk about the thoughts, they are more likely to challenge them."

Speaking after it was revealed that local charity Childline has dealt with almost 400 suicide related counselling sessions across Northern Ireland last year, the charity's service manager for Northern Ireland urged people not to ignore this "blunt wake-up call."

"We must face the painful reality that many young people feel so overwhelmed by their problems they have considered taking their own precious life," said Mairead Monds.

The calls, which all related to suicidal thoughts, concerned a number of key issues including sexual/gender identity, drugs/substance misuse, sexual abuse and eating disorders.

A further study, published by the British Medical Journal, focusing on the mortality risk following self harm incidents and adolescents found there to have been a steep rise in self-harm among girls aged 13-16 across the UK.

Speaking to the Courier, one of the doctors involved in the research, Carolyn Chew-Graham said: "The data collected is robust but it does need to be complemented by other research interviewing young people to identify why they feels this is an appropriate course of action.

"Speaking as a parent, not as a GP, I think mobile phones and the rise of social media plays a big part in children's ability to develop relationships and the pressure to always check their phone is clear.

"There is very little training for GPs with regards to self harm.

GPs are aware of the issue but not all GPs are minded to consider the severity of mental health issues.

We hope that we are better at dealing with it than we were twenty years ago but we still need to make big imporovements in this area."


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