Supporting Young People in Care

There seems to be an unspoken assumption that when we talk about children in care on a day to day basis, we’re picturing a very young child. It’s the image we see in films and tv shows, of a child usually under the age of 10 being placed in a foster home or being removed from the care of their parents. You can understand how this develops. Sensationalised and dramatized storylines about toddlers who are in need of “rescue” from negative environments makes for great plot points in TV. It’s the type of thing that keep people tuning into soap operas every day. And thanks to the high rates of good practice across the UK, real-life practitioners are able to recognise a vulnerable child earlier on, meaning they’re placed in care at a younger age. Nevertheless, we need to ensure that older children who find themselves in care get the full breadth of our attention; whether or not they fit into a prejudiced stereotype that the media has constructed for us. Young people can be just as vulnerable as children, and they face a whole range of struggles that need practitioner (and societal) support.

Young people are growing up, they’re starting to understand the world a bit more and they’re more aware of their surroundings. While this can be a great time in your life, when you’re learning who you are and the defining features of your personality; many children enter this stage with a very real risk of neglect, abuse and trauma. If a young person is in an unsafe environment at home (for whatever reason) then their development will be inherently defined by this situation. To minimise the risk posed to them and to attempt to provide them with the most stable environment while they grow up; some young people will be removed from their home and placed in care. These looked-after young adults will then either be in foster care or residential care, with aid from social workers and members of the social care community, preparing them for when they will be independent.

Whether in foster care or residential, young people face a period in their lives of great emotional upheaval and distress, and being in a foster home, residential home or other residential setting away from their homes does not simplify things. Young people are aware enough to understand what is happening and can recognise that moving into care is the right move; however, they require personalised support to manoeuvre their way through this period.

For many, moving into the social care system is a positive step in their childhood and adolescence, as they are removed from a situation where they were vulnerable and now have the potential to grow and thrive. Each case is always different, but overall, the social care services in the UK do an excellent job to be there for vulnerable young people who need them. However, it’s no secret that the services are stretched thin. The number of children in care is rising all the time, and with shocking statistics like 836 children in care in Stoke-on-Trent alone, it can be easy to feel like the sector is overwhelmed.

Currently, it’s hard for practitioners to provide this fully personalised support that young people need, no matter how hard they try. The constant battle for funding in social care means that the resources practitioners need to help young people develop their independence are simply unavailable. As with any matter in social work and care, staffing issues also come into play, as teams are stretched thin trying to meet all the demand for their help without the necessary manpower. Such a vital part of supporting young people who are being looked after is to prepare them for life after care. It’s about developing their skills, confidence and capabilities so that when the time comes, they can lead fulfilling independent lives. As with any other young person, someone in care is preparing to be an adult. And it’s up to us to make sure they are given the tools they need to grow into positive contributors to society. As a result there are dozens of services nationwide who work to be there for every child; but is this part of the problem? Is it too easy to develop a reliance on the services that exist and so young people do not have the opportunity to build up their skill sets? Front-line services provide invaluable help, however, should practitioners work to wean young people, and themselves, off the safety net that they give us? If social workers had the necessary resources to care for vulnerable young people in an effective way, then this direct work would build more confident and capable adults when they left care.

The Guardian commented in 2015 that “having a cut-off in England that deprives many care leavers of statutory support after the age of 18 means that many are left to fend for themselves in a way that sets them up to fail”; and that rings completely true. While the people who work to support children and young people in care and afterwards, the system itself is flawed. It’s too easy currently for children in care to not receive effective guidance as they grow up, leading them to situations where they remain vulnerable and at risk. Young people are tough, resilient and capable of great things – no matter what background they’re from. And if anything, those who have been through the care system have learnt to adapt and handle pressure from an early age, making them almost more likely to be able to handle curveballs in life. Despite all this, having to do all this on your own is nearly impossible. This is why young people who are lacking stable family environments really need a system that will be there for them and foster their skills while they grow. As it stands, we’re failing young people in care. Not by any fault of individual practitioners, but because overall, we need to rethink how we’re doing this. Care isn’t just about protecting the youngest of our citizens from harm, it’s also about ensuring their growth isn’t hindered and preparing them for a bright and positive future.

A Cover is Not the Book: Reviewing Prejudices in Social Work

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]No matter how we try, there are prejudices everywhere. Our minds immediately assume someone with glasses looks intelligent, tattoos imply a rebellious nature and millennials are ‘snowflakes’. While some have an inherent predisposition towards making assumptions and discriminating against demographics, this isn’t the case for everyone. For many, these prejudices are unconscious connections made in the mind, a consequence of societal pre-conceptions that are spread by historical stereotypes and the media. However, we were all taught as children, don’t judge a book by its cover. So, what happened to this ideal? Why is it that in social work we see so many prejudices about different groups in society? There are 3 key areas where practitioners will notice a level of prejudice from those external to the sector, which are important to be aware of. By understanding how the non-social work community perceive these groups of people, we can all work together to reframe the narrative and showcase the truth of our sector.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”The Homeless ” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1555082596861{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}”][vc_column_text]This is possibly the stereotype that will raise the most eyebrows with readers. There’s an assumption that everyone who is homeless is a substance addict, with potentially violent tendencies and should be approached with caution. Their personalities are put into the tidy box of “hobo”, a rough character who you’re not 100% safe around. We’re hesitant to give beggars some loose change because we always think they’ll spend it on alcohol or drugs instead of food or the chance to get shelter. There are countless prejudices in our heads about those who are rough sleeping. But is that entirely fair?[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Now, it can’t be denied that many people who end up homeless do have an issue with addiction, which has usually contributed to their state and will prevent them finding a stable living situation. However, we should be careful not to tar everyone with the same brush, as lots of people end up sleeping rough due to a range of completely different circumstances and are actively trying to turn their lives around.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]More importantly, these prejudices about the people on the streets have a much bigger impact. As The Guardian commented in 2015, they are “treated like illegally parked cars”. Our assumptions influence how we support the homeless, which in turn makes the cycle of homelessness much harder to break. No matter what circumstances have led to someone having to live on the streets, our compassion as a society should never be lost. And it feels like currently, we’re letting our ability to sympathise, care and support be undermined by these notions of what homeless people *might* be like.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Care Leavers ” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1555082650184{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}”][vc_column_text]Care leavers have historically faced a struggle overcoming the “care” label, because it became associated with troubled people or a personal trauma. And while yes, some children enter care in tumultuous circumstances, there is no 1 blueprint for why a child will require care or how they will develop as they grow up. Care leavers are expected to fail, or at least not make very much of their lives, because they had an upbringing that differed from the norm. Why should it matter though? We all have individual and unique experiences, so why is one element so important about determining someone’s impression of you? Every human being is a complex mixture of their experiences, their passions, their ambitions and so much more. And growing up in care, or spending some time there during your life, is only one small piece of the puzzle.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”“You’re expected to fail before you get a chance. People pity you. They assume that care leavers are going to do worse because they’ve looked at the statistics.” – Kelly, Project Positive. ” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:20|text_align:right|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1555083715775{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fsociety%2F2018%2Fdec%2F11%2Fcare-leavers-challenge-stigma||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]By allowing these stereotypes and prejudices to continue, we’re creating an almost self-fulfilling prophecy. Society doesn’t expect much of care leavers, so they’re conditioned to think they can’t achieve much, which means they don’t. Thereby ‘proving’ the stereotype. We need to break the cycle, and this can be done so easily. Ensure growing up in care is only a part of the conversation if the child or young person wants it to be. Set standards across higher education and employment to protect care leavers from discrimination. Most importantly, shine a spotlight on the reality of all that care leavers can achieve. Every young person has the potential to change the world, so let’s show the world just what care leavers can contribute.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Social Workers Themselves” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1555082807279{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}”][vc_column_text]This one is no secret. We have all faced the prejudice that anyone in social work is a certain type of person. Think elbow patches on tweed jackets. Or some villainous creature like the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Social workers are perceived as bland people who steal babies from the families in the middle of the night, when we know that our work is so much more complex. Social work is about understanding a situation, protecting the vulnerable and facilitating change where needed. If there was ever any job role that is driven by good intentions, it’s social work.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]And yet, when you ask a stranger to think of a social worker, they picture the extreme caricature practitioner portrayed in TV shows or films. The alternative is sometimes just as difficult: they simply have nothing to say. So many people have only one of two assumptions about social workers – either society’s villains or completely overlooked. Good practice is developed with support from within the social work community, but those outside of our sector have a role to play too. If this negative prejudice against those in this profession could be torn down, it would make a social workers job easier and would allow us to showcase how beneficial social worker intervention can be.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator color=”custom” style=”dotted” border_width=”2″ accent_color=”#ef7e21″][vc_column_text]A lot of our work in social work is based around knowledge, theories and facts; but has that left us susceptible to adult cynicism, scepticism and prejudice? Children are not born with prejudices, it’s something they are either taught or shown by society. Therefore, if this stereotyping is not a natural part of our DNA, it should surely be something we can ‘un-learn’. Let’s take a leaf out of the children’s handbook and view people for exactly who they are, and not for some preconceived. So, I leave you today with 1 final piece of advice from the recent Mary Poppins film, where super-nanny Mary herself (with the help of some dancing penguins) encouraged children that “the cover is not the book, so open it up and take a look!”. I think it’s about time we teach others to see past the cover in so many areas of social work and learn to see people for who they really are, what their experiences are and what they can offer a situation.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax=”content-moving” css=”.vc_custom_1555082963241{padding-top: px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;background-color: #848685 !important;background-position: center;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”While you’re here…” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:30|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1555083191811{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

If you’re working with any level of prejudice within social work, whether it’s towards your service user or yourself, there are resources available which can help implement positive practices and structures for all involved. 

[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Care leavers’/young people’s views on their lives – questionnaires” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_background=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D4833%26title%3DCare%2520leavers%25E2%2580%2599%2Fyoung%2520people%25E2%2580%2599s%2520views%2520on%2520their%2520lives%2520%25E2%2580%2593%2520questionnaires||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Positive Social Work: The Essential Toolkit for NQSWs” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_background=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D589%26title%3DPositive%2520Social%2520Work%3A%2520The%2520Essential%2520Toolkit%2520for%2520NQSWs||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Emotional Resilience Toolkit” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_background=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D1553%26title%3DEmotional%2520Resilience%2520Toolkit||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Risks of Misrepresenting Bipolar Disorder

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”“One in every 100 adults will be diagnosed with bipolar disorder at some point in their life“ – NHS” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:right|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1553871532729{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nhs.uk%2Fconditions%2Fbipolar-disorder%2F||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]With all the best intentions, mental health is an undeniable minefield. Its very nature is incredibly personal, and thereby varies from person to person, with each instance of mental ill-health manifesting in a unique way. Nevertheless, in an attempt to better understand these symptoms and provide appropriate support, we collect together symptoms into conditions and disorders. One such case is the way we approach bipolar disorder. Despite the fact that each bipolar person will go through their own journey with this mental illness, we naturally assume that everyone reacts the same. There are highs and lows, unpredictable behaviour and just general inconsistencies – this is just glossing over the reality of the situation. As with any mental illness, it’s so important for us to properly understand the impact it has on an individual’s life in order to create an inclusive society for all.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Most importantly, bipolar disorder isn’t a mental health condition that we really talk about very much. It’s used as a plot point in TV shows or films to cause drama, but I wager that many of us don’t talk about the true face of bipolar in the same way we do with anxiety or depression. 30th March marks Bipolar Awareness Day, where the Twitter-verse comes together under #WorldBipolarDay to share real stories and help educate about what bipolar disorder really looks like. There is also a secondary hashtag which symbolises the drive within the bipolar community to change the perceptions of just how debilitating and life-ruining bipolar disorder can be: #BipolarStrong. It’s time we stop and recognise that we’re in danger of misrepresenting people who live with bipolar disorder, recognise the inner strength they have and break down the barriers we have about discussing this variation of mental health.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”What is Bipolar Disorder?” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]Bipolar disorder can also go by the name bipolar affective disorder, and is a mood disorder, affecting the severity of the mood changes that people experience. It used to be known as manic depression because of the common ‘mood states’ that bipolar people experience: manic/hypomanic episodes and depressive episodes. In layman’s terms, feeling high or feeling low.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Signs and Symptoms” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]As with any mental health condition, bipolar can appear in different ways for different people. There is the consistent notion of drastic changes in mood, but what do we know about these changes? Bipolar disorder is about the changes an individual feels in their mood, making it a very personal and changeable version of mental health. There is no textbook on what an “episode” will look like, but we do know that the illness has a series of different manifestations:

  • Manic states
  • Hypomanic states
  • Depressive states
  • Mixed states
  • Psychotic Symptoms

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]The following descriptions of the various episodes and symptoms are from Mind, the Mental Health Charity, to help show how bipolar may look or feel.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Manic Episodes” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:18|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.mind.org.uk%2Finformation-support%2Ftypes-of-mental-health-problems%2Fbipolar-disorder%2Fbipolar-moods-symptoms%2F%23.XJ3xdpieTIU||target:%20_blank|”][vc_column_text]How you might feel 

  • happy, euphoric or a sense of well-being
  • uncontrollably excited, like you can’t get your words out fast enough
  • irritable and agitated
  • increased sexual energy
  • easily distracted, like your thoughts are racing, or you can’t concentrate
  • very confident or adventurous
  • like you are untouchable or can’t be harmed
  • like you can perform physical and mental tasks better than normal
  • like you are understand, see or hear things that other people can’t

How you might behave

  • more active than usual
  • talking a lot, speaking very quickly, or not making sense to other people
  • being very friendly
  • saying or doing things that are inappropriate and out of character
  • sleeping very little or not at all
  • being rude or aggressive
  • misusing drugs or alcohol
  • spending money excessively or in a way that is unusual for you
  • losing social inhibitions
  • taking serious risks with your safety

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Hypomanic Episodes” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:18|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.mind.org.uk%2Finformation-support%2Ftypes-of-mental-health-problems%2Fbipolar-disorder%2Fbipolar-moods-symptoms%2F%23.XJ3xdpieTIU||target:%20_blank|”][vc_column_text]How you might feel

  • happy, euphoric or a sense of well-being
  • very excited, like you can’t get your words out fast enough
  • irritable and agitated
  • increased sexual energy
  • easily distracted, like your thoughts are racing, or you can’t concentrate
  • confident or adventurous

How you might behave

  • more active than usual
  • talking a lot or speaking very quickly
  • being very friendly
  • sleeping very little
  • spending money excessively
  • losing social inhibitions or taking risks

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Depressive Episodes” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:18|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.mind.org.uk%2Finformation-support%2Ftypes-of-mental-health-problems%2Fbipolar-disorder%2Fbipolar-moods-symptoms%2F%23.XJ3xdpieTIU||target:%20_blank|”][vc_column_text]

How you might feel

  • down, upset or tearful
  • tired or sluggish
  • not being interested in or finding enjoyment in things you used to
  • low self-esteem and lacking in confidence
  • guilty, worthless or hopeless
  • agitated and tense
  • suicidal

How you might behave

  • not doing things you normally enjoy
  • having trouble sleeping, or sleeping too much
  • eating too little or too much
  • misusing drugs or alcohol
  • being withdrawn or avoiding people
  • being less physically active than usual
  • self-harming, or attempting suicide

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]To add to the distress, not every mood will fit into one of these tidy boxes. Sometimes, those with bipolar disorder can find themselves in a “mixed state”, which is where you can experience multiple episodes (manic, hypomanic or depressive) at the same time or in quick succession. Those living with bipolar describe this state as at times, the worst to work through, as you’re unclear about how you’re really feeling. In addition, you can also experience periods of psychosis where you have delusions, such as paranoia or hallucinations (like hearing voices); although this manifestation doesn’t happen to every person with bipolar disorder.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”4646″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank” link=”https://www.onestopsocial.co.uk/social-work-membership/”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Who can it affect?” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]Realistically, bipolar could affect anyone. Scientists haven’t yet been able to determine the exact cause of the condition, but research shows that it could be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. You’re more likely to develop it if a close relative has the illness, which can help families plan for the possible eventualities, but there is no guarantee of diagnosis – or guarantee of no diagnosis! It can appear at any age, however most diagnoses happen between 15 and 19 years old, and rarely manifests itself after the age of 40.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]A key thing to be aware of in our sector, is that some of the environmental factors that can trigger bipolar disorder is childhood abuse or trauma and experiencing the death of a loved one. These intense experiences can have effects of a depressive episode manifesting itself, therefore practitioners who work with children need to be aware of the signs that may indicate bipolar disorder.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Why do we need to get talking?” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]Mental health comes in all shapes and sizes, and yes while some are more prevalent than others, they all deserve equal attention and support. We need to show every single person who is fighting their own mental illness that they are loved, cared for and not alone in this battle. Currently, we don’t seem to give bipolar disorder enough time of day. We have sympathy yes, but what are we actively doing to understand it and to show those with this disorder that they have a safe place to discuss their emotions and work through manic, depressive or mixed states?[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]There’s such a negative stigma surrounding those who have bipolar disorder, which can be incredibly isolating, and it needs to stop. By giving bipolar disorder sufferers a platform to tell their stories and give a human and real look at what the mental health condition is actually like, we can start to break down the barriers. We need to learn about it more as a society, whether or not you have a personal connection to the illness. Only through knowledge can we truly become compassionate and considerate to the challenges people with bipolar disorder encounter every day, thereby realising how we can all support them more effectively.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Contributed by Elena Jones, One Stop Social Team. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax=”content-moving” css=”.vc_custom_1553869736014{padding-top: px !important;padding-bottom: px !important;background-color: #848685 !important;background-position: center;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”While you’re here…” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:30|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1553869840444{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

One Stop Social have a whole range of helpful guides, booklets, tools and more in our Resources Page which can help develop good practice when working with people who are dealing with mental health issues, including bipolar disorder. If you want further support as a practitioner then get in touch and see how else we can help!

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”16px”][vc_btn title=”Understanding bipolar disorder booklet” style=”outline” shape=”round” color=”white” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D4666%26title%3DUnderstanding%2520bipolar%2520disorder%2520booklet||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”When a Parent has bipolar disorder…..What kids want to know.” style=”outline” shape=”round” color=”white” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D3825%26title%3DWhen%2520a%2520Parent%2520has%2520bipolar%2520disorder…..What%2520kids%2520want%2520to%2520know.||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Critiquing Personality Disorder: A Social Perspective” style=”outline” shape=”round” color=”white” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D598%26title%3DCritiquing%2520Personality%2520Disorder%3A%2520A%2520Social%2520Perspective||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Someone in my family has mental illness (workbook for children/teens)” style=”outline” shape=”round” color=”white” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D4414%26title%3DSomeone%2520in%2520my%2520family%2520has%2520mental%2520illness%2520(workbook%2520for%2520children%2Fteens)||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Youth Depression, Anxiety and Burnout

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

There’s been a change in the air. Our culture is starting to understand mental health more and respect those who suffer from poor mental health to a much higher degree. Gone are the days where we felt the need to hide any sign of “weakness” or anything that made us stand out from the crowd, psychologically speaking. We’re able to recognise that a mental health issue does not define a person and that there are real treatments that can be put in place to help the individual.

[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”“The first time I experienced depression I was aged 16. I felt confused and scared“.” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]Nevertheless, the headlines seem filled on a regular basis with stories about a particular demographic who seem to be struggling as a whole with rising levels of mental health issues: young people. Students and young professionals are experiencing extremely high amounts of mental health problems, focusing in on anxiety and depression as frequent issues. As a young woman in the working world, I see it everywhere. In my friends, family members, colleagues and ex-classmates from university. As a collective, young people are going through a notably tough time.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Before we get caught up in statistics and solutions though, it’s important to take a step back and understand what I mean with mental health in this piece, and in particular the focus of this study: anxiety, depression and burnout. [/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”“I grew up understanding that any negative feelings were bad, rather than encouraged to see negative emotions as natural and unavoidable human experiences“” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]Mental health is officially defined by the World Health Organisation as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”. That being said, when we talk about mental health normally, we don’t usually consider it in the positive light; we mean mental health troubles. When our brains don’t seem to want to cooperate and start to cause issues for us in our day-to-day lives. Although the spotlight for this article is on some of the more common disorders, mental health issues can come in all shapes and forms, and to people of all backgrounds, races, religions and orientations. [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]The term depression encompasses the feeling of low mood that lasts for a long time, affecting your routine and everyday life and making you feel hopeless, despairing, guilty, worthless, unmotivated and exhausted. Depression can vary from milder cases which tamper with the stability of your emotional state, to much more severe and life-threatening forms which can make someone feel suicidal. Meanwhile anxiety is the name for when we’re worried, tense, afraid or at times insecure. Most people operate with a normal level of anxiety in certain situations, however it can become a more complex issue requiring professional mental health intervention. The last variation of mental health which occurs frequently in young people is less about an embedded condition in your psyche but instead is a gradual process, which can result in a full breakdown if not treated. It’s the complete emotional, mental and physical exhaustion that comes from overwhelming stress. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1553082007682{padding-top: 10px !important;padding-bottom: 10px !important;background-image: url(https://www.onestopsocial.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/pexels-photo-1353361.jpeg?id=4568) !important;background-position: center !important;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”“Depression doesn’t stop me from living, and I won’t let it“” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1553081640834{margin-top: 0px !important;margin-bottom: 15px !important;padding-top: 0px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Now that we understand the state of play, why should we give young people special attention here? If mental health problems are such changeable and all-encompassing beasts, why not just look at everyone? The reality is though that in modern social work practice, countless practitioners are recognising the prevalence of mental health issues in children and young people. The WHO reports that suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 20% of adolescents experience a mental health problem in any given year. 20% of people whose psychological make-up is still developing are experiencing poor mental health. I personally feel that’s enough of a justification for looking into this more. [/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”“Failing to kill myself prompted me to decide that I couldn’t do this on my own“ ” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]So why is it that every few days we’re hearing of new stories about mental health conditions in our young people? Is it because there are more triggers? Are the services not effective? Or is the reality that children and young people have always struggled with mental health, but it’s only now that we understand the area better that we’re able to identify different conditions? [/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”“I didn’t ask for help because I was unaware of what anxiety and depression were and how they affect young adults.“ ” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” css=”.vc_custom_1553082323068{padding-top: -10px !important;}”][vc_column_text]The data says that 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24; but I wanted to look beyond the official stats and talk to real people. After all, social work is all about actual individuals and helping them through trying times – so why not hear from the front-line of youth mental health? I collated honest descriptions of experiences from a variety of teenagers and young people from around the UK, all with different backgrounds and upbringings, to try to comprehend why young people are facing such a difficult mental health experience. [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Obviously, I didn’t come up with the magical simple answer that can solve all youth mental health problems. Psychology doesn’t work like that. (Wouldn’t it be nice if it did?) However, a few common perspectives on the pressures felt by young people emerged, helping to educate me (and by consequence, hopefully you, our readers) about what young people are really feeling. Once we as a sector know that, we’re one step closer to getting every young person back to a positive mental health frame of mind.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”“Social media is Satan.“” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” css=”.vc_custom_1553082313250{padding-top: -10px !important;}”][vc_column_text]Aside from a few cases where they had experienced a trauma as a child, all the respondents did not point to one specific cause. It was about the collective experience of being young in the modern world and how that slowly wore down their mental strength. The pressure of facing decisions that might impact the rest of your life (what A-Levels to choose? University or not?) combine with the natural hormonal changes that we go through as we develop into a lethal concoction of stress and overwhelming emotions. As someone who moved country at 17, I can personally empathise with the effect these decisions, choices and changes have on your developing psyche. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”4562″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”“Social media both drove me up the walls and became a vessel to channel my anger.“” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Social media was recognised as a common trigger for many people, given the power it has over our modern society. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other such platforms dominate our lives, and for those who have grown up with higher levels of technology, we’re subliminally addicted. It’s so easy to just open up an app and see people supposedly living the life you want. Being more attractive or photogenic than you. Achieving more in their lives than you. And the main problem is, none of it is real. The grass is always greener somewhere else, and every social media influencer is putting out only the positives. On these platforms we control the narrative that we put out to the World and that type of dishonesty is incredibly dangerous. Creating these false personas online means that we not only deceive our “friends” and followers, but also ourselves. It becomes a self-sabotage, driving us to feel insecure about our real lives because they’re not living up to our Instagram profiles. One interviewee noted that as soon as they recognised the power given to these platforms, it became easier to approach social media in a healthier way and even use it as part of the recovery process. “I learned that I can openly speak about my mental health issues online and don’t have to sugar-coat my life”. [/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”“I realised that what I’m doing is affecting people I love as much as it’s affecting me.“” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]Above all, the children and young people we spoke to pointed to one thing: the stigma surrounding mental health and getting help for issues. No matter what strides have been made in regard to opening up the conversation about mental health, there is so much more we can do. 70% of children and young people who experience a mental health problem have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age (Mental Health Foundation, 2019). We’re not recognising the reality of young people’s mental health and thus leaving the problems to fester and develop into more severe situations than they should be. The NHS reported that one in eight 5-19 year olds had at least one mental disorder when assessed in 2017. That’s around 12% of our children/young people who have poor mental health in one or more formats; so, we can’t pretend that mental health is something that happens to grown-ups. And yet, the stigma of not talking about mental health sometimes has even more of a strength when looking at children or young people. It’s almost as if we don’t want to believe such young people could be experiencing such difficult times, it’s such an upsetting idea, that we just refuse to properly consider it. This traps children who feel out of control in the feeling that they have to hide their emotions, rather than learning to process them in a healthy way. The people I interviewed also highlighted that it’s more likely for women and girls to speak about mental health than men/boys. The male gender is being smothered by toxic masculinity and what is “expected” of them – meaning that boys are still growing up feeling like even just talking about their feelings is wrong. There are so many aspects of this that make me angry. Every child, young person and adult should feel like they can be honest about their feelings, as only by sharing our experiences can we recognise that there’s validity in negative emotions and that it’s a natural human process. [/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”“Counselling motivated me to speak about my problems as a disease I can fix, rather than a personal fault.“ ” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]Looking into all these issues and restrictions to promoting positive mental health across the UK can make you feel slightly hopeless, but I beg you, please don’t lose hope. Whether you’re a practitioner actively working with young people who are going through mental health problems or just a compassionate member of the community looking to help: there’s so much we can do. Firstly, let’s shout from the rooftops about the fantastic services that exist and the help they can provide. Countless people work day in day out to be a voice at the end of a helpline or offering counsel over a cup of tea. [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Another key area to focus on is education. Whether in structured settings or not, let’s educate ourselves about what mental health actually is. I often get so angry at myself for the fact that I can probably name every Kardashian sibling and the lyrics to songs I’ve not heard since the 90s, but I don’t know nearly enough about mental disorders that members of my own family have gone through. Pop culture holds our attention so much, but what about the things that really matter? Let’s spend more of the Hollywood big bucks on films and tv shows that help the wider population understand the truth about mental health. I also believe that mental health education and coping mechanisms should also be engrained to an extent into school curriculums so that from an early age we’re able to recognise different feelings and how to handle them. If the interviews for this piece taught me anything, it’s that we all go through so much from day one and we need to learn much earlier in the process that we’re not going through this alone, and that it’s okay to not be okay. [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]By Elena Jones, One Stop Social Team. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”“Even after seeking help, it was a long process before I accepted that I wasn’t different for having a hard time.“” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_custom_heading text=”“I felt overwhelmed by work, but I couldn’t admit something was really wrong until I ended up in hospital. it was as if I was admitting a failure to be an ‘adult’.“” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23848685″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”“I felt disconnected and a desperate sadness that seemed to come from nowhere. There was no obvious external trigger so it had to be my fault!“ ” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23848685″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_custom_heading text=”“I think it just had a lot to do with the uncertainty of the future.“” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax=”content-moving” css=”.vc_custom_1553080594750{padding-top: 10px !important;padding-bottom: 10px !important;background-color: #848685 !important;background-position: center;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”While you’re here…” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:30|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1553081859287{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

One Stop Social has a whole range of helpful mental health resources to further your practice and to ensure the vulnerable people you work with get the best support. Here are just a few recommended tools and guides we find useful.

[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Someone in my family has mental illness (workbook for children/teens)” style=”outline” color=”white” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D4414%26title%3DSomeone%2520in%2520my%2520family%2520has%2520mental%2520illness%2520(workbook%2520for%2520children%2Fteens)||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”How to support someone who feels suicidal booklet” style=”outline” color=”white” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D4790%26title%3DHow%2520to%2520support%2520someone%2520who%2520feels%2520suicidal%2520booklet||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Self-Esteem Journal” style=”outline” color=”white” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D4636%26title%3DSelf-Esteem%2520Journal||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Uniting in Support of University Mental Health

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”“Five times as many students told their uni they had a mental health problem than students who attended 10 years before“” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:30|text_align:right|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1551977888613{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ippr.org%2Fresearch%2Fpublications%2Fnot-by-degrees||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Social media is a strange entity. It is signposted as the cause for many mental health issues in young people, due to the domination over our communication channels it has; but then at the same time, it’s used to raise awareness about valuable issues. Today is one such conundrum. Twitter has announced to the world that it’s #UniMentalHealthDay and the entirety of the Twitter-verse has jumped at the chance to post, tweet and share their thoughts on the mental health crisis facing universities across the UK. Social media has become a forum to discuss negative mental health triggers, symptoms, causes and solutions – mildly ironic given just how many young people credit Instagram with body image issues, Facebook with loneliness and Twitter with bullying…[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”#UniMentalHealthDay” style=”flat” shape=”round” color=”warning” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Fsearch%3Fq%3D%2523UniMentalHealthDay%26src%3Dtypeahead_click||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Putting that juxtaposition of social media values aside, #UniMentalHealthDay gives us an occasion to reflect on the mental health situation facing young people, specifically those at university.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]University is a great time for so many people. You meet friends who you might end up keeping for the rest of your life. You’re pursuing a qualification in something you’re actually interested in. Perhaps you’ve even moved away from home and you’re getting your first taste of independent life. There are so many reasons why university can be a really positive time; however, looking at all these factors in another light can also highlight how easy it can be to develop mental health issues. There’s an immense of pressure on students to build a large circle of friends, to excel academically while also being a “big name on campus”; and all this is happening in a foreign environment with (at times) a weak support system in place. And let’s not forget the vast financial strain young people are put under with incredibly high tuition fees, restricted availability of financial aid and the ever-looming threat of debt straight after graduation. It’s ignorant to think that will have no impact on the levels of depression, anxiety and stress across the student community.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Reports indicate that 1 in 4 students at university experience a mental health problem and higher education institutions across the country are reporting a 94% increase in demand for counselling services. This data highlights the real crisis we’re facing in regard to caring for the mental health of our students.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Are you a ‘BNOC’?” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23848685″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]While it’s true that the stereotypical “childhood innocence” is ending much earlier than in previous generations, due to the exposure children and teenagers have to adult themes such as violence, substance abuse, sex and crime from films, tv shows, advertising material and video games. We’re now in a world where children become young adults much earlier and aspire to grow up much sooner. Teenagers are conditioned to want to look, act or be treated like social media “celebrities”; which affects the way they view the world at a crucial point in their psychological development. With all this happening as they grow up, by the time they reach university, students are so susceptible to the pressures of uni life. Fitting in and being recognised as a popular person within a community is seen as essential; so, when it’s harder than expected, the mental health stability of students suffers.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”First, 2.1, 2.2, Third…” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23848685″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]University students also face a real amount of pressure academically, as so much emphasis is placed on getting the top grades in “sensible” degrees which will help you secure a job afterwards in an employment market that is stacked against you. There are now so many more applicants for every role, so young people are pushed into feeling that anything other than a First is a let-down and will severely damage their future. This jeopardises their ability to grow as an individual outside of an educational spectrum and develop qualities which will serve them much better in the job market (confidence, teamwork, compassion, etc.).[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”What can we do? ” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23848685″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]It’s clear that something needs to be done to shake up the way students view the university experience. Student suicide rates have gone up 79% between 2009 and 2015, so the time to act is now. Firstly, we need to get the message across that university isn’t necessarily for everyone, and that is okay! We are all programmed differently, and hence we will succeed in different environments. For some, that means a different route than the standard university process. Perhaps it’s straight into work. Or maybe you discover an apprenticeship that you’re passionate about. At times, sometimes what needs to be reinforced as well is the fact that most of the time, a student will be more likely to succeed if they’re studying something they love, instead of what they believe they ‘should’ study. If you love a particular subject, you’ll work harder for the coursework, engross yourself in the wider reading and actively engage with the teaching. You’ll also be happier. As a result, the academic pressure (while not gone completely) will be more of an encouragement to thrive, than a threat of failure.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Another factor to consider is the support systems in place at universities. Students from poorer backgrounds need a better level of financial aid, and a reduction in the fear that they will be bankrupt the minute they leave university and have to start repaying loans. The standard university culture of drinking, partying and intense socialising is also in need of reform. We all have different interests, so let’s ensure they all get the necessary attention. Societies that foster more bespoke passions, artistic endeavours or highlight cultural differences need the same amount of funding and publicity on campus as the major sports teams (and typically the wildest partiers) get. Drug and substance misuse is rife among students, and peer pressure plays a large role in that; therefore, if we show new students that there are healthier ways to manage the new life changes they’re experiencing than just following the “crowd”, we might just be able to make them feel less alone.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Most importantly, mental health services. They need to be more accessible, more widely available and more openly discussed with students. At times it can feel like seeking help is embarrassing or admitting failure, so let’s make sure that all young students arriving on day 1 learn that it 100% is not. Not having the ‘perfect’ university experience is completely normal. No-one expects you to go through it stress free; but what we can do is make sure that we’re all here to help manage the stress and give you the appropriate channels to release it and process all negative emotions you’re having.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax=”content-moving” css=”.vc_custom_1551977683949{padding-top: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;background-color: #848685 !important;background-position: center;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”While you’re here…” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:60|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1551977736044{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

One Stop Social has a whole range of helpful mental health resources to further your practice and to ensure the vulnerable people you work with get the best support . Here are just a few recommended tools and guides we find useful.

[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”How to increase your self-esteem booklet” style=”outline” color=”white” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D4790%26title%3DHow%2520to%2520support%2520someone%2520who%2520feels%2520suicidal%2520booklet||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Self-Esteem Journal” style=”outline” color=”white” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D4636%26title%3DSelf-Esteem%2520Journal||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Self Harm – Distraction Techniques & Alternative Coping Strategies” style=”outline” color=”white” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D4412%26title%3DSelf%2520Harm%2520%25E2%2580%2593%2520Distraction%2520Techniques%2520%26%2520Alternative%2520Coping%2520Strategies||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Perfect Storm for Knife Crime

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”The number of children in England aged 16 and under being stabbed rose by 93% between 2016 and 2018″ font_container=”tag:h3|font_size:30|text_align:right|color:%23848685″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1551872959462{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fuk-47415673||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Until around 2014, we were feeling hopeful. Knife crime, along with overall violence levels, was on the decline; slowly reducing in levels of attacks and offences. However, the reassuring trend was not set to last. Since then, data from the Home Office shows a continuous increase in the offences that involved a knife or sharp object across England and Wales. Killings by knife are at their highest since 1946. 1 in 5 perpetrators of knife related offences were under the age of 18. This shows a shocking state for our society, where young people are finding themselves in situations where they are committing criminal acts with a sharp weapon. No child or young person should feel like they can or should threaten, hurt or kill someone with a knife – but it seems at the moment, they do.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]However, it’s not just young people committing these offences. They’re also the victims. Our children are hurting each other. Too many headlines are reporting on how yet another young person has been stabbed, usually in the larger cities like London, leaving a family and community devastated. As sentences for knife-related offences are getting tougher, gangs are turning to young people to exploit the fact that they’re more likely to be cautioned, instead of imprisoned. Under-18 year old’s not only are having to fear for their safety, but they’re also constantly at risk of being manipulated into acting criminally themselves.

So, what has led to this crisis? How have we reached the stage where ‘every parent’s nightmare’ is a reality for far too many families?[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Lack of policing” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:26|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]There’s been a pressure cooker of factors leading to a rise in the number of knife related crimes, but there are 2 key areas which together, have had a major impact. Firstly, the lack of policing has played a key role in the worsening crisis of knife crime. While the Prime Minister denies a correlation between the increase and the recent decline in police numbers, it’s hard to not see it. If there are fewer boots on the pavement, policing all levels of criminal activity; then it becomes easier for gangs to get away with offences. Police teams across the country are struggling greatly to recruit the necessary numbers, due to lack of funding and incentives; leaving the existing police officers over stretched and trying to cover every angle in a region. It’s clear that this alone is an unsustainable solution to controlling the level of knife crime in England and Wales. A reduced police presence diminishes their authority within a community, leaving young people open to being exploited and manipulated into acting in a criminal manner.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Austerity” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:26|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]The other main reason contributing to the current climate of injury, death or assault by knife is simple: austerity. Liza Minelli once sang “money makes the world go ‘round”. Jerry Maguire shouted “Show me the money”. You can’t escape the need for money in our modern world. No matter what your political perspectives on the policy of austerity, it’s clear that social work services in this country need money. The police are underfunded, meaning they have less reach to contain criminal activity. Social work services don’t have the finances to increase their numbers and effectively support vulnerable people; leaving many to fall prey to the influence of gangs and criminals. The funding for Youth Offending Teams has dropped to just over £250m in 2017, after a steady decline since 2011. If practitioners do not have the necessary resources to facilitate changes in the lives of young people under the influence of gangs, or in negative environments which make them feel violent, then these statistics of assaults and killings will simply continue to rise. Therefore, the continued policy of austerity has left those in a safeguarding position with their hands tied.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Closure of Community Centres” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:26|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]Austerity has also had a ripple on effect outside of the teams who are in place to support those who are vulnerable. The financial crisis across the country has meant that so many youth centres and community venues have closed, leaving children and young people with fewer places to go. Young people need a purpose, somewhere to divert their energy and fulfil their creativity; but currently they’re left without this outlet. Safe havens where children and youths can congregate and socialise in a healthy manner are disappearing, making it easier for them to be exploited.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Where do we go from here?” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:26|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]With so many of these incidents revolving around a drug or gang conflict, the question is posed as to whether we’re doing enough to tackle the issues at hand. Why do drug dealers or gangs feel they can get away with it? How can we support young people who are still in school and keep them away from falling into criminal activity? Calls are being made for police officers to be placed in some schools, in particular in the major cities, but with officers struggling to cope already, it’s unclear whether that will only add to the problem. Realistically, we need an injection of money into the necessary services and a revamp to the recruitment process for both practitioners and police officers. We need to increase the number of people defending those who are vulnerable to the influence of gangs, those who protect them from exploitation and a life of crime. An important action to take is also one of the easiest to take: get involved. Raise your voice about increasing funding to services in your area or restructuring protection teams. Speak out about the teenagers carrying knives in your area. Teenagers in London are riding their bikes together in protect of knife violence, under the slogan Knives Down, Bikes Up. Find your equivalent – a simple action that shows victims that the knife crime crisis will end, and also reaffirm the strength and solidarity of our communities.

Or perhaps Labour MP Vernon Coaker is right – maybe it’s time we treat knife crime with the same urgency as terrorism. It’s a crisis that is shaking our country’s foundations and risking the lives and safety of our citizens, especially innocent children. If that doesn’t require urgent attention, then what does?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax=”content-moving” css=”.vc_custom_1551870272691{padding-top: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;background-color: #848685 !important;background-position: center;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”While you’re here…” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:40|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1551870319791{padding-top: -10px !important;}”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1551870792000{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

One Stop Social have a whole range of helpful guides, booklets, tools and more in our Resources Page which can help develop good practice when working with young offenders. If you want further support as a practitioner then get in touch and see how else we can help!

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”12px”][vc_btn title=”Social Work Chronologies Practice Guidance | Practice Standard” style=”outline” color=”white” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D5084%26title%3DSocial%2520Work%2520Chronologies%2520Practice%2520Guidance%2520%7C%2520Practice%2520Standard||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Think Victim | Victim Awareness Worksheets | CYPs” style=”outline” color=”white” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D1342%26title%3DThink%2520Victim%2520%7C%2520Victim%2520Awareness%2520Worksheets%2520%7C%2520CYPs||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Consequences of Offending: Consequences for me | Worksheet” style=”outline” color=”white” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D1265%26title%3DConsequences%2520of%2520Offending%3A%2520Consequences%2520for%2520me%2520%7C%2520Worksheet||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Going to Court” style=”outline” color=”white” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D3758%26title%3DGoing%2520to%2520Court||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Building a Positive Future with Sugarman Education

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”‘Never ever compromise on the safeguarding of a vulnerable child'” font_container=”tag:h5|font_size:20|text_align:center|color:%23848685″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1551276132925{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}”][vc_single_image image=”4259″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

“We are most effective when acting together.” That’s one of the messages that shapes the work Sugarman Education do. They firmly believe in the strength of a collaboration when approaching challenges in working with children and young people. As a group, they work to place engaging, qualified and talented education professionals in schools across London and Sydney, while supporting the development of children and young people. Sharon Mohan, Head of Children’s Services, states that “I believe that all children/young people regardless of their background or circumstances, should have a happy and fulfilled childhood”; highlighting the drive to set up every child and young person for a successful future.  

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

No matter how much we hate to think that children can have less than idyllic childhoods, at one time or another, every family will be susceptible to ‘vulnerabilities’ – which Sharon defines as “something about the child, parent, family, community or system is creating a risk of poor physical or mental health”. As a result, it’s of the utmost importance that the structure is in place across the UK for services and professionals to come together and keep children on track for thriving futures.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

A child can become vulnerable for a whole range of reasons, thereby making each case different. Circumstances can include poverty, single parenting, unemployment, relationship problems, illness, frequent family relocation, family violence, alcohol and other drug use, racism and other forms of discrimination, and social isolation. No matter what the trigger is, services like Sugarman need to ensure that the professionals involved in the safeguarding process are ready and able to effectively develop positive futures for every child.

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

People are at the heart of what Sugarman do, and it’s refreshing to see such a positive focus defining the values of an agency. It can be all too common that a service in social work or care is shaped by the struggles or issues within the sector. Instead, Sugarman Education work from a place of positivity, recognising the need for PEOPLE to be at their core.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row gap=”15″ equal_height=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1551277839677{padding-top: -10px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”P” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:24|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21|line_height:1.2″ google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_custom_heading text=”Passion” font_container=”tag:h4|font_size:22|text_align:center|color:%233a3a3a|line_height:1.2″ google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_custom_heading text=”E” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:24|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21|line_height:1.2″ google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_custom_heading text=”Enthusiasm” font_container=”tag:h4|font_size:22|text_align:center|color:%233a3a3a|line_height:1.2″ google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_custom_heading text=”O” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:24|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21|line_height:1.2″ google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_custom_heading text=”Opportunity/Openness” font_container=”tag:h4|font_size:22|text_align:center|color:%233a3a3a|line_height:1.2″ google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_custom_heading text=”P” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:24|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21|line_height:1.2″ google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_custom_heading text=”Professionalism” font_container=”tag:h4|font_size:22|text_align:center|color:%233a3a3a|line_height:1.2″ google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_custom_heading text=”L” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:24|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21|line_height:1.2″ google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_custom_heading text=”Loyalty” font_container=”tag:h4|font_size:22|text_align:center|color:%233a3a3a|line_height:1.2″ google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_custom_heading text=”E” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:24|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21|line_height:1.2″ google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_custom_heading text=”Energy” font_container=”tag:h4|font_size:22|text_align:center|color:%233a3a3a|line_height:1.2″ google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Vulnerable children and young people can face a whole range of challenges and risks as they grow up, depending on their personal circumstances, and so it’s vital that practitioners have a collaborative mindset when looking after them. After all, social workers are not the only professionals who encounter children and young people at risk; therefore, by recognising that people need to act together, we can all come together to support future generations.  Top priority within Sugarman is given to creating a culture of high educational aspirations, and that it ripples through to inspire the children/young people to strive for accelerated progress.

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

The team recognise the challenges facing practitioners nowadays, quoting that the underfunding and overworking of social workers will always be a platform for complications. The systems and processes need to be streamlined so that it becomes a simpler process to work together. Educational professionals, if they’re trained properly and incorporated into the safeguarding process, can be the strongest allies of social workers; creating a dynamic of collaboration. It’s with this awareness that Sugarman approach the future: they’re aiming to get to a place where they can facilitate bespoke training for alternative learning providers, whilst working with designated teachers, social workers, foster carers and educational practitioners.  

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Sugarman Education is part of the Cordant Group, the UK’s largest Social Enterprise with an overarching social mission to make a positive impact on society and the lives of others.

Sugarman Education put a real focus on nurturing relationships – with clients, candidates and colleagues. They have some really exciting projects coming up within the Children’s Services Team, so make sure you watch this space for all the latest news!

[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Find out more” style=”flat” shape=”round” color=”warning” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fsugarmaneducation.co.uk%2Flooking-for-staff%2Fchildrens-services%2F||target:%20_blank|”][vc_column_text]

Above all, as a society we must be aware of the social, educational and economic costs of failing to help vulnerable children; and this is something Sharon professes is embedded in the culture at Sugarman . “I believe that supporting vulnerable children is the biggest social justice challenge of our time”. There’s a passion for safeguarding, but luckily, it’s not without an honest look at the state of play in the sector. Given the funding issues across all of social work and care, Sugarman hope to promote the value in early interventions, as that’s when it is most cost-effective to invest in young children and their families. Therefore, while it does not prevent future problems, getting in early can help reduce the likelihood of further complications, and successfully turn things around for the vulnerable individual.  

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Despite their existing ambitions to reduce abuse, neglect and youth offending while also increasing the permanent homes available for those in care; Sharon knows the team don’t want to stop there. They’re vastly aware of the opportunities that exist to make an even greater difference in the lives of vulnerable children and young people. The issue is, we all need to be smarter when it comes to collaboration. We need to learn when, how and why it is effective; so that we can come together to develop policies, deliver services and positive affect our communities as a whole.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax=”content-moving” css=”.vc_custom_1551276378582{padding-top: 5px !important;padding-bottom: 5px !important;background-color: #848685 !important;background-position: center;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”While you’re here…” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:50|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1551277483409{padding-top: -10px !important;padding-bottom: -10px !important;}” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2F||target:%20_blank|”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1551278149198{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

One Stop Social have a whole range of helpful guides, booklets, tools and more in our Resources Page which can help develop good practice when working with children and young people. If you want further support as a practitioner then get in touch and see how else we can help!

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”15px”][vc_btn title=”Section 47 Enquiries | Assessment Handout” style=”outline” color=”white” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D5058%26title%3DSection%252047%2520Enquiries%2520%7C%2520Assessment%2520Handout||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Child and Family Assessments | Assessment Handouts” style=”outline” color=”white” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D5030%26title%3DChild%2520and%2520Family%2520Assessments%2520%7C%2520Assessment%2520Handouts||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Let’s learn together – A guide for parents and teachers of adopted children in primary school” style=”outline” color=”white” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D4426%26title%3DLet%25E2%2580%2599s%2520learn%2520together%2520%25E2%2580%2593%2520A%2520guide%2520for%2520parents%2520and%2520teachers%2520of%2520adopted%2520children%2520in%2520primary%2520school||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Looking Into Youth Homelessness

When we think of a homeless person, the stereotype that pops
into many people’s mind subconsciously is an older man who shows visual signs
of substance abuse. We sometimes think of homelessness as something that you’re
at risk of later in life; but realistically there is a large issue of youth
homelessness in the UK which needs our attention. A 2017 review showed that roughly
half of the individuals who accessed homelessness services in the UK were
between the ages of 18 and 24
. That’s thousands of young people who are
either at risk of becoming homeless or are already homeless.

It can’t be denied that what it means to be a young person
has changed dramatically over the past few years. Across just a couple of
generations, it’s become much harder to find a job, buy a house or grow a
savings account; not to mention the societal pressures placed upon young people
by high levels of social media influence. There are countless worries on young
people as a collective, which has been shown to wreak havoc on their mental
health but can also be one of the contributing factors to youth homelessness. A
young person can end up homeless due to a number of reasons, including family
breakdown, involvement with gangs and mental/physical health issues. There are
also numerous reports showing how children leaving care have a likelihood of becoming
homeless; as well as the many young people who come to the UK as refugees
fleeing an unsafe environment in their home country. There can be so many
different unfortunate incidents which lead to a child or young person sleeping
rough, and the numbers keep rising. Even with the Homelessness
Reduction Act, councils are reporting more and more people on the streets every
year
.  

There also appears to be a large amount of youth
homelessness which is not noticed or recognised by some statistics, meaning that
the problem is much larger than it may seem. The Independent reported in 2015
that “83,000
homeless young people have had to rely on councils and charities for a roof
over their heads during the past year
”, which was over 3 times higher than
the Department for Communities and Local Government reported figures of 26,852
youth homelessness. The so-called “hidden homeless” are thousands of people (a
large proportion of whom are between 16-24) who have no alternative but to sleep on sofas, floors,
night buses or with strangers
. Some studies indicate that up to a
quarter of a million people under 25 just within London have slept in an unsafe
place
, adding fuel to the hypothesis that our current analysis methods are
flawed. As homelessness becomes even more of a high-profile issue lately – partly
due to Manchester
Mayor Andy Burnham’s very public campaign to reduce the number of people
sleeping rough within Greater Manchester
– it’s incredibly important that
we start to have consistently accurate data. Without a clear understanding of exactly
what problem we’re facing as a society in terms of youth homelessness, we can’t
possibly begin to come up with a truly effective solution.    

While it can be easy to give a few quid to every homeless person who you pass on the street, thinking you’ve done a “good deed” and giving yourself an ego boost; our social work community knows this won’t realistically help. The root causes of homelessness need to be addressed, from the level of support given to care-leavers to the involvement of education institutions in the safeguarding process. Young people have the potential to interact with dozens of services or individuals who can support them and reduce the risk of them becoming homeless; however, these services don’t have the capacity at the moment to deal with the ever-increasing statistics. As with so many areas of social work, the local authorities and charities working to help homeless people are obscenely underfunded. While the Homelessness Reduction Act represents a step in the right direction, youth homelessness will continue to be a serious issue within our society until we come together as a nation to tackle it. In order to protect our young people, and every other person who faces sleeping rough as an option, we need to ensure that services and councils are collaborating and are being given the funds and resources they need. In addition, by developing new tools to engage with young people, practitioners can prevent youth homelessness by helping resolve family conflicts, finding alternative care solutions, encouraging education and safeguarding vulnerable people from the clutches of gangs.

As well as working to reduce homelessness in general, we need to make sure we’re committing enough attention to youth homelessness specifically. We need more accurate statistics, which allow us to build more inclusive, collaborative and effective strategies. Everyone should have a safe place to sleep at night, and the fact that thousands of young people are should not only inspire sympathy, but also motivate action.

While you’re here…

In October 2018 we launched OSS Membership, our new method of supporting our social work community. We’ve developed a membership for social work and social care professionals which offers you discounts on books, resources and bespoke insurance packages. Also, through our rewards platform you receive thousands of rewards and offer codes for fashion, retail, travel, holidays, utilities and more. You also get exclusive access to training and our monthly lottery fund.

The Status Quo of Mental Health in Young Women.

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Recently, The Guardian published an online article examining the worrying statistics about the number of girls who self-harm or have attempted suicide (you can read it here). This got us thinking about what the general state of mental health for young women. A lot of the time, the conversation about shocking statistics within mental health seems to revolve a lot around men, and with suicide as the highest killer of men under 45 in the UK, it’s easy to see why. But amongst all our worry about how to get the men in our lives to feel willing and able to talk about their mental health and seek much needed help, are we jeopardising a different demographic? Yes, we’re doing better at supporting men, but is it at the cost of not recognising the issues at play for young women?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Guardian reported that a fifth of girls between the ages of 17 and 19 had self-harmed or attempted suicide. A fifth. That’s 20% of our young women who feel that hurting themselves or taking their own lives is an option. This data came through as part of a large piece of NHS research into the mental health of those under 19, which also reported a drastic rise in the mental health struggles of children. 1 in 18 young women between 17 – 19 years of age also reported a degree of body dysmorphia, highlighting a possible cause or trigger for the self-harm noted. As girls grow up, they are developing body image issues which they are not able to work through, and as they get older the issues just get more powerful.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]All this shows one thing. Our young women aren’t actually happy.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]We can do better. In an age where many women have more rights than our ancestors could have dreamed of and movements like Times Up and #MeToo are working to put an end to hidden gender inequality and sexual abuse/harassment; girls should be approaching their 20s feeling positive. Yes we’ve still got a long way to go in regards to wage equality, domestic abuse and more; but we’re slowly smashing the glass ceiling, fighting to defend the rights of those who need us and levelling the playing field. We’re at a much better place than we were just a few generations ago, so our younger generations (young women) should have hope for the future. But do we as a society just assume that because someone is young, with their whole life ahead of them and very few obvious responsibilities, they are carefree and endlessly happy? Between 17 and 19, many young women are in higher education, studying towards something they are passionate about and living away from home for the first time – but is it an easy time?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Moving to university can be a fantastic experience, but it also comes with different types of pressures. What “type” of uni student will you be? How will that impact your image with your peers? Will you be a “big name on campus”? Are you wearing the right outfit for a “social”? The drinking and partying culture of universities within the UK can play a major impact on the mental health stability of young women. When anyone drinks, they become a little less in control of themselves, that’s a biological fact. For a young woman, that experience can be incredibly worrying, with drunk “lads” crowding bars or the prospect of getting home late at night on your own raising lots of fears. 17 to 19 years olds have also grown up in the age of social media, where every experience is documented and recorded for all to see.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]With all this mixing around in the head of your average 18-year-old, poor mental health is bound to come about. There’s just too much to worry about, and that’s before we’ve even begun to consider the pressure that the media plays on the mental health of girls and women across the World. 17 to 19 is a time of great change, and evidently, there’s a flaw in the current system to help girls adapt and cope.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]So, what can we do about all this? If the data is showing an issue in the mental health of young women, how do we work to resolve this? We need to take an active role in reducing the number from 1 in 5 of our young women contemplating self-harm or suicide. The way forward is not easy, and there’s no clear solution yet, but there are a few simple steps we can all take together to support girls in their mental health development.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

  1. Encourage positive body images. Let’s stop celebrating celebrities with unnatural bodies or ultra-thin shapes and subliminally indicating that there is a “right” and a “wrong” body shape. Women come in all shapes and sizes because our individual bodies work to keep us alive and breathing and healthy. Stop encouraging girls to mess with biology just to fit an unrealistic magazine cover.
  2. Stop focussing on body image full stop. Why are we all so preoccupied with the way women look in our society? Support campaigns like Jameela Jamil’s “I Weigh”, where the value of women is placed on their achievements in life, passions, careers, families, aspirations and more, rather than what the scales say. We should be teaching our girls that the most important thing is to be a good person who contributes positively to society.
  3. Create better support systems at universities. If 17 to 19 is the age bracket that is suffering greatly, then a benefit could be found in providing a support through student unions, societies and colleges at universities across the UK. We should make sure that all girls starting university know that they can talk about the process in a comforting and safe place.
  4. Cut back on social media. With everyone tweeting, uploading to their Insta Stories and FlashbackFriday-ing everywhere you look it’s impossible to breathe without social media knowing about it. This puts a stifling pressure on everyone, but especially young people. So, what if we all worked to reduce this pressure? Let’s set better examples and lead younger generations into an age where the dependency on a social profile is lessened.
  5. Provide better opportunities for young women in STEM fields. We’re working on equalising the playing field in terms of career development, so let’s make sure girls know they have all the opportunities they could wish for. As they’re approaching their 20s and starting their careers, we can be there to support their studies or work in typically male-dominated fields, like science, technology, engineering and maths.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It must be 100% clear: these tips will not help an individual with their mental health struggles. If you or someone you know is suffering with their mental health, then they need to seek professional advice.

These guidelines are just a way for our community to combat the general aspects that may be impacting young women as a whole. Every person who battles against negativity in their mental health will have their own, very personal, reasons about why they feel that way. Some of the general issues within our society will obviously come into play, but it’ll all be interpreted differently.

So, our one tip for if you have a someone in your life who you think is suffering with their mental health: reach out and ask if they’re okay. Kindness is the most powerful tool we all have at our disposal, let’s use it.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_cta h2=”Resources for Body Image and Mental Health” txt_align=”center”]If you’re working with someone who is struggling with their mental health or has body image issues, then why not check out our Resources Page? We’ve got lots of helpful tools including:

Body Image Tool Kit

Mental Health and Well-being: Alternatives to the Medical Model

Modern Mental Health: Critical Perspectives on Psychiatric Practice[/vc_cta][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Getting to Know Care and Community

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]We like to think of ourselves as the “central hub for social work and care” at One Stop Social, so from time to time we like to review front-line services who we think contribute positively to the sector we care so much about and who we feel our extended One Stop Social audience should know more about. Care and Community are one such service. They define themselves as “a provider of quality semi-supported accommodation”, proving that a focus on quality is an integral value throughout the company. With a semi-independent living program offering residential accommodation to 16-18 year olds leaving the care system, Care and Community are establishing themselves as a leader in social care sector.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”2351″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Care and Community began on a football field of all places. One of the now-Director’s teammates was working part-time in the social care sector in Fylde, focusing his work around encouraging young people in care to get involved in sport and leisure activities. As part of this work, he brought along a 15 year old young man to one of the football teams evening training sessions. As the Director recollects, “this lad had been on a now leading premier league books as a schoolboy, but then fell in with the wrong crowd and had been sent to what was known as Fylde Farm at the time. We got chatting over a few training sessions, and my teammate and I talked about how unfortunate it was that this young lad had lost both his freedom and potentially lucrative career”. These conversations led them to realise there weren’t many opportunities waiting for the young man once he turned 16, and led him to think about what he could do to change that. He began looking into setting up a provision that could help 16-18 year olds who were leaving care, and thus began Care and Community.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Care and Community offers more than just a roof over your head to young people, they support the development and maturing of children who used to be in care into active adults in society. They place a great importance on supporting the facilitation of education for their service users, by giving them access to training courses, employment opportunities or colleges and private educational organisations. By supporting their learning, the service users feel their achievements are recognised and rewarded, thereby improving the feelings of self-worth and self-confidence which are so important for young people. This encouragement goes beyond just academic qualifications, as Care and Community try to make sure their service users are also participating in extracurricular, cultural and social activities so that their begin to build full, enriched lives for themselves. It can be easy to underestimate the value of enjoying some leisure time with friends, but at the age of 17, it can help mould you into an engaging person who can achieve more, both educationally and socially. Care and Community are well aware of this.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Their support for their service users as complex individuals full of potential extends into a program of “Ongoing Life Skills” centered around financial wellbeing, safety, health, ways to make a positive contribution to the world and preparing them to move on from the care system into independence. Service users are taught to budget their weekly allowance and helped through applications for bursaries or grants; along with general advice on how to manage normal household bills once they become independent. The Care and Community team also ensure that all vaccinations and immunisations are up to date, as well as following medical advice on vision and hearing checks. They work to make sure that every young person they care for has good physical, emotional, mental and sexual health and can make informed choices about their own health once they are looking after themselves.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]We have been aware of Care and Community’s excellent services on offer practically since One Stop Social began – and we loved partnering with them for our first convention back in June – but it’s not just us who are impressed! Their website has a section dedicated to testimonials, where service users are given the chance to pass on feedback, and the reviews are glowing! “If I didn’t have you lot I don’t know what I would have done” “Being at Veronica House really changed my life” and “I will never forget you all” are just some of the ways the young people who have been supported by Care and Community think back on their time. And really, their opinions on the service are the most valuable of all![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]