A Spalding mum is stressing the importance of getting children to talk about mental health, as national figures show an increase in the number of children considering suicide.
According to a recent review by the NSPCC’s Childline, the number of children calling the charity because they are thinking about taking their own lives has more than doubled in five years.
Vanessa Browning, who set up support group Community Mind Matters after her own experiences with mental health issues, says she recently sought help after her 13-year-old son opened up to her about his own anxieties.
She said: “I felt there was something going on with Taylor and at first he just hid it. Eventually, he talked to me.
“I called 111 to get support and they were fantastic. I think it’s come from exam stress but it’s something we’re still dealing with.”
Vanessa started Spalding-based Community Mind Matters to give people suffering from conditions like depression and anxiety the chance to meet, socialise, talk and access help.
She feels that while people are becoming more open about mental health, it’s important that children get the chance to talk about issues that are affecting them.
According to the NSPCC the top three concerns for children contacting Childline are low self-esteem or unhappiness, family relationships and bullying or online bullying.
Vanessa said: “There is so much pressure on children now.
“The bullying needs to be controlled. People need to be aware of what their children are reading or seeing. Their minds are still developing.
“These children are also not getting the sleep they need.
“I don’t allow Taylor to go on Facebook. I have always talked to him about it. I feel Facebook is toxic.
“I monitor what websites he’s looking at and what he’s seeing on You Tube.
“I feel there should be more taught in the schools (about social media, online bullying and mental health).
“More adults are being open about mental health issues now and children need to talk about their feelings.”
Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust provides specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) across Lincolnshire.
They support young people with mild to moderate mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, through to more complex and enduring issues that are causing significant impairment in their lives.
In April the Trust launched its new community CAMHS provision, which now includes 24/7 crisis services and specialist eating disorder support for young people.
Roni Swift, Divisional Manager for Specialist Services, said: “We have seen a steady rise in young people being referred to us with eating disorders and self-harming issues – which are also on the increase nationally.
“Cases of bullying and the pressures put on children by the use of social media is also a concern for clinicians across the country at the moment.
“In addition to the new community services, we were pleased to learn recently that CAMHS will receive a share of £406,000 government funding to further support young people in Lincolnshire.
“This will go towards providing a section 136 ‘alternative place of safety’, based within our inpatient ward for children and young people.
“It will help to avoid the need for those suffering a mental health crisis from being taken into police custody.”
In addition, Tonic Health is launching a Safe Places mental health community meeting scheme at its base at 6 Broadgate House, Westlode Street, Spalding, to provide advice and support as well as regular guest speakers.
Tonic Health is hosting a Mental Health Awareness Day from noon-2pm on Monday, October 10.
The Safe Places meetings start the next day, October 11, and every Tuesday from 4.30pm-6pm.
To find out more go to www.spaldingsafeplaces.co.uk or email info@ spaldingsafeplaces.co.uk