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My mental health

My mental health

When we talk about 'mental health' we are talking about how we think, feel, act and how we are able to cope in general with life. Everyone feels worried, sad or stressed about things but its how we deal with this that tells us what our mental health is like.

Looking after our mental health is just as important as our physical health because it helps us to feel less stressed, be able to have good relationships with other people and make good choices in life.

At any time, ALL people can feel sad, angry, worried and frightened. Children and young people looked after can be more likely to feel this way because they may be missing their family, upset about the changes in their life, unhappy about where they are living or not being able to do the things they were used to.

What does a mental health illness mean then?

Everyone goes through being sad, stressed, angry, scared or worried at different times in their life. If these feelings go on, say for more than a month, and if it gets really bad that you have trouble being able to cope with everyday life, this is what we would call having a mental illness or mental health problem. Having a mental illness does NOT mean that you are mental or mad. Some of the mental health illnesses you may have heard of could be depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, post traumatic stress disorder.

Who gets mental health problems?

At any one time, almost one in every four people can have a mental health problem so it's more common than you think. Depression can affect one in every 3 people at some point in their life. Some of the signs of depression in children and young people can include things like easily losing their temper, being angry and grumpy very often, having lots of aches and pains like headaches and stomach aches.

What causes mental illness?

Nobody really knows all the reasons why but a mental health illness could be something that people are born with or because of what they have experienced in life or a mixture of both. It could also be that some people find it harder than others to cope with stressful situations in life.

Just because people go through times of stress does not mean that they will go on to have a mental health problem, we just can't tell who will and who won't. If life does get difficult for you, you can get the support you need so that there is less of a chance of getting a mental health problem.

What does this mean for looked after children?

Children who are looked after tend to have a higher chance of feeling stressed or having mental health problems mainly because looked after children have usually been through a lot more stressful and difficult life events than other young people. This doesn't mean though that every child looked after will go on to have a mental health problem.

If my parent has mental health problems will I get them too?

Just because your parent has a mental health problem, the chances of you getting one is very low, even if you are feeling very stressed. Some people think that you can 'catch' a mental health illness but this is NOT true.

How do people get help for mental health problems?

People like psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists and mental health nurses work with people with mental health problems and help them to cope with their life better. A GP or social worker usually gets a person who needs help with their mental health in touch with the right workers.

You may have heard of the word 'treatment' which is just a plan of how help will be given to a person who needs help with their mental health. Before this help can be given, workers will look at the person's life experiences and problems. Many people that need help with their mental health find it useful to talk to a professional or they may need medication to help them get better. Sometimes they are given both.

Does everyone who sees a mental health worker have a mental illness?

Just because people see a mental health worker does NOT mean that they have a mental health problem. The Children & Adolescent Looked After Service (formerly known as CLAMHS) do work with children and young people who have a mental health problem but most of the time, they see young people who are stressed and need some help in making sense of the difficult things that have happened in their lives.

About Children & Adolescent Looked After Service

Is Children & Adolescent Looked After Service part of Social Care?

NO - We are part of the NHS (National Health Service - so it's like your GP, or doctors at hospital). We do work very closely with social care to help young people who are looked after by Lambeth.

Why would someone be referred to the Children & Adolescent Looked After Service?

Children and young people are referred to the service for a number a reasons. Usually it is because the social worker is worried that they are under stress and need some help in making sense of the difficult things or changes that have happened in their lives, or that the person caring for them is finding this hard. Occasionally children and young people ask to speak to someone.

Who will the Children & Adolescent Looked After Service see?

We work with young people aged 0-18 years looked after by Lambeth Social Care. We mainly work with children who are living in Lambeth, or who may be returning home to Lambeth. Sometimes, though, we will work with young people who live outside Lambeth if it is not possible for them to get the help they need in their local area.

How are young people seen by Children & Adolescent Looked After Service?

Social workers are usually the ones who ask us to see a young person. Sometimes, GPs, carers or young people contact us directly and as long as the young person's Social Worker agrees, that is ok too.

What does the Children & Adolescent Looked After Service do?

Once we have been asked to see a young person, there are four things that can happen:

1) Consultation: This means we would talk to the Social Worker and other people working with the young person about how to make things better for the young person.

2) Assessment: Young people and their family and carers would be asked to meet with us and this gives everyone a chance to talk about how things are for them. The assessment is done so that we can see how we can help the young person. Sometimes we would need to meet more than once with young people, their family and carers to do the assessment.

Assessments normally happen in Brixton, but we can see people in their homes if that is easier. After the assessment we write a report about how to make things better for the young person. This might include things like where the best place is for the young person to live and also if they might find therapy (counselling) helpful. We always go through our reports with the young person before giving it to the Social Worker.

3) Therapeutic support: We set up a number of meetings over a period of time so that we can work on certain things with the young person. These meetings could be with the young person on their own or with parents or carers depending on what the therapy sessions were about.

4) Fostering changes programme: The foster carer may be asked or request to attend a 12 week group programme aimed at helping them support children and young people they are caring for.