When all is not well – signs a teenager may need help with mental health…

The teen years can be turbulent. It’s a time of great change physically, emotionally and socially.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/lovleah

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/lovleah

So how might we know if a young person is struggling? Not just having a bad day, but really foundering… Here are some signs that it might be time to get some professional help with mental health.

When is it time to call for help?…

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Sexting 3

What young people think...

Teenagers know more about technology than most adults do. So keeping them safe is difficult as well as vital.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/MrPants

Once again, my evening has included a couple of “phone extractions.” This is where I separate my 14 year old son from his mobile phone.

His phone has a camera on it. Most phones do these days. The camera phone has now become an intrinsic part of teenage social life. The wide availability and affordability of smartphones, as well as apps like Instagram and SnapChat, have seen to that.

So what do we know about camera phone dangers?…

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Dealing with attention-seeking behaviour…

The other day I heard myself saying it again, “You’re just trying to get my attention!” And I was right.

Child with megaphone...

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/hidesy

Kids’ behaviour can be infuriating. And never more so than when we know they’re pitching for our attention.

We’re busy. Life is busy! And yet they insist on saying and doing things just to stop us from getting stuff done. Or thats what it feels like.

So what’s this kind of behaviour all about?…

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Why finger-wagging doesn’t work…

Worse than our shame at doing something wrong, is the knowledge that someone we care about is unhappy with us.

Parent telling off a child...

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/_Ella_

This is the case with young people too. They know full well that they’ve done something they shouldn’t have.

But they also know that we, and others, are unhappy about it.

Why our unhappiness is crucial (& dangerous)…

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Domestic abuse – the impact on children…

Domestic violence scene...

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/ejwhite

Home is supposed to be a safe place. A refuge from the challenges of life.

But for some children, it’s the opposite. It’s a place of threat. Of danger.

NICE, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, has recently published it’s guidance for services working with domestic violence and abuse.  But what about those of us working directly with young people and their families?

We need to know what we’re looking for if we’re going to protect children effectively.

What exactly are the impacts on children?

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Safer Internet Day 2014

Photo ©CEOP

Photo ©CEOP

Sexting, bullying, online abuse…

11th February was Safer Internet Day 2014 (#SID2014).

If you don’t do anything else, show your teenaged kids this video from CEOP, the Child Online Exploitation & Protection agency.

Teach your child…

If they are ever even slightly worried by anything they see, hear or read online, they should REPORT it by clicking the button… Like this one:
Report abuse


Need further information?…

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Attachment – when it goes wrong…

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/Danielle71

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/Danielle71

In a previous post we looked at attachment, asking the question: What is it?

The conclusion was that it is the mechanism by which children learn to be people. And they get it through their interactions with those who care for them.

It effects everything. How they perceive others, themselves and their own place in the world.

Here, I want to look at what happens when care is poor and attachment goes awry.

When attachment goes wrong…

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Attachment – what is it?

It’s been a tough year! In fact it’s been the toughest year of my life to date. For all kinds of reasons.

This is relevant here because of one thing that’s happened as a result.

Mothers Hands - iStock_000002861933XSmall

Photo courtesy of ©istockphoto/DLeonis

I’ve had a lot more contact with my wider family. Dad, Mum, Sister, Brother – all of them. I’ve been struck by how much my focus has shifted back “home” when the pressure has been on.

“Home” in this context is not a place, though it could include that. It’s about people. People we feel safe with. People we can trust. People who really know us, and love us anyway. People who act as a secure base. A safe harbour, if you like, to shelter us from navigating the stormy waters of life on our own.

Why attachment matters… 

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Calling a spade, a “spade”…

Why language about “pornography” matters…

Keyboard "porn" key...

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/sndr

Public concern about “child pornography” is growing.

In the last 12 months there has been a 40% rise in the number of reports made to the Internet Watch Foundation about potentially illegal content on the internet.

Staff at the IWF attribute this to increased public concern about the issue following recent high profile cases.

Both Tia Sharp and April Jones‘ killers are known to have accessed child abuse images online before the murders of the two young girls.

Why online pornography matters…

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Sexting 2

What can we do to about it?...

Sexting – sending explicit pictures and messages to others – is rife among young people. The consequences are stark, long-lasting and costly on all kinds of levels.

Unsure? Check out my first post on this subject – Sexting: why it’s not sexy…

Sexting - James Brey iStock_000020990475XSmall (2)

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto/JamesBrey

The bottom line is this: once a picture is taken and sent, you can never take it back. Ever. It’s gone.

All control over it is lost. Who sees it. Whom they send it on to. Which websites it gets posted on. None of this can be controlled.

So what can be done?…

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Engaging teens – 8 Quick Tips…

Gang Of Teenagers Hanging Out

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/MachineHeadz

Someone asked me how old I was the other day. “48” I replied and then immediately questioned my own answer.

48? Really? It seemed far too big a number! It’s a while since I was a teenager, obviously.

For many, that distance is debilitating. They encounter teenagers and feel paralysed about how to respond or interact, even fearful. I guess we all fear what we don’t understand

It can feel all the more tricky to break the ice with very troubled young people, who are already struggling to trust adults, particularly professionals…

So, remember…

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Youth suicide: risk & protective factors…

Current suicide rates for the 15-24 age group is currently running at around 8% in the UK (per 100,000).

Grave stone  koya79 - iStock_000018339157XSmall

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/koya79

In 2011 (latest figures) The Samaritans took over 600,000 calls from people expressing suicidal feelings.

Not wishing to alarm anyone, but I’ve been there myself. It’s horrible. And terrifying. And, worst of all, it’s lonely.

Those of us who work with troubled young people need to know what we’re looking for, so that we can help. It could be a life or death issue…

Risk factors you should know about…

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