The degree to which a young person reacts to a difficult or distressing event lasts longer than a couple of days / weeks and causes the young person distress or might have some mild impact on their ability to cope with everyday life such as going to or coping at school, seeing friends or taking part in leisure activities. Examples of situations or events that may cause / contribute to a young person feeling distressed might be:
- Being routinely teased or bullied (including being or feeling left out or excluded)
- Grief or loss (including romantic relationships ending)
- Witness or experience of conflict (at home or school)
- Witness or experiencing an accident or injury
- Family and relationship stressors (family breakdown parent / sibling ill-health, financial or social stressors)
As well as the features above, the following might also be present:
- Disrupted sleep (difficulties getting to or staying asleep, waking very early in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep)
- Seeking physical or verbal seeking reassurance or wanting to withdraw from social contact and communication
- Resistance to doing things; appearing unmotivated and disinterested
- Emotionally labile; frequent changes of emotion, more sensitive (e.g. irritable, upset, confused)
- May seem more on-edge or jumpy at times at other times may seem to be ‘in their own world / daydream type state’
- Overthinking and appearing preoccupied or concerned by the triggering event – more aware of anything related to the triggering event
If families or professionals are concerned that a child is experiencing any of the issues above support is available, this includes:
Support in schools
All primary schools have a named Mental Health Lead and within schools there is a range of pastoral support available. Schools also work with other professionals in order to gain advice and guidance on how best to support children’s social and emotional needs. These services may include the Portsmouth Educational Psychology Team, the Multi Agency Behaviour Support Team and the Inclusion Outreach team.
Within many schools, pastoral support may be provided by Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSAs)
ELSAs are teaching assistants in schools who have been trained by Educational Psychologists to work with children who are showing a wide range of emotional or social needs for example; anxiety, low self-esteem, problems with anger etc. Through individual (and small group) support programmes ELSAs help children to develop their social and emotional skills.
Support will also include Mental Health Support Teams (MHST’s) who are available in all primary schools.
MHST’s support children and young people with mild to moderate mental health problems. The approach they use in primary schools focuses on supporting parents with cognitive behavioural strategies to use with their child to overcome difficulties associated with trauma/post traumatic stress disorder. Time is spent on reflecting on what works best for the family and guiding parents in adapting strategies to meet their child’s individual needs as well as providing opportunity for practice.
The school should make contact with MHST for consultation and support for MHST referral where appropriate.
For professionals such as GP’s they should encourage families to link in with the school-based support described above. The CAMHS Single Point of Access is also available for consultation and advice.
Available Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm.
Contact: 0300 123 6632.