I wonder how many of our teens are mentally ill?

(48 Posts)
minifingerz Sun 13-Mar-16 23:06:03

Reading some of the other threads on this board and my heart is breaking for other parents who are going through what I went through with dd for 4 years. She is 16 now, and no longer aggressive and impossible to live with as she was between 12 and 16. But she is mentally ill, so life is still hard. No more shouting, breaking things and being violent. And she goes to college and does her work, but she is so very sad and I'm frightened for her. sad

She was seen at a specialist hospital last week for assessment, referred there by CAMHS after 3 years of on-off (mainly off) family therapy, and then CBT failed to improve things. After having been made to feel that we could resolve our problems with dd through family therapy, we now find out that dd's problems go way, way beyond that. She has been diagnosed with PTSD, treatment resistant depression, a deficit of empathy, conduct disorder, body dysmorphia, and possibly a personality disorder. sad I feel absolutely gutted that we struggled on for four years without a diagnosis, and experienced so much trauma, which has damaged our other two children and impacted on our health.

All those years when we were going to CAMHS wringing our hands and saying 'why is she behaving like this?' in pieces over how utterly unbearable her behaviour was, and being assured that although dd was depressed and anxious, there was nothing fundamentally wrong, and that we needed to learn how to manage her behaviour....

Is it that CAMHS is inadequate for children with complex difficulties? Or are so many teens behaving in very challenging ways at home that really hideous and abusive behaviour towards parents and siblings is now being seen as part of the spectrum of normal teen behaviour rather than a sign of severe emotional disturbance?

Anyway, sorry to witter on, but I feel so sorry reading all the posts on the board at the moment. flowers flowers flowers to all of you going through hard times with your teens.

Thornrose Sun 13-Mar-16 23:12:59

CAMHS is SO inadequate for children with complex difficulties. They've virtually shut down in my area, with no viable replacement.

I'm still at the aggressive and impossible to live with stage. sad

Wow, that's some diagnosis for your poor dd. How the hell are we expected to manage this stuff?

minifingerz Sun 13-Mar-16 23:24:09

There is so little real and meaningful support for parents.

Thornrose Sun 13-Mar-16 23:28:21

I agree. I've been deemed at risk of carer breakdown (I think that's the term they used?) by Social services. They'll get back to me in a couple of weeks!

minifingerz Sun 13-Mar-16 23:31:33

So sorry Thornrose. :-(

I have a wonderful DH and a lovely family - my dd would have ended up in care had I not had the support network that I've got. I know many parents here have poor support and some are doing it alone. I have no idea how lone parents survive it.

Thornrose Sun 13-Mar-16 23:35:31

Thanks, dd lost her dad in 2010. It's just me mostly, my mum and dsis try but they don't really get it right.

Anyway, sorry for making this about me. blush

MEgirl Tue 15-Mar-16 16:21:28

I completely agree. DT2 was hospitalised just over 2 years ago with a major headache and stroke like symptoms. Nothing medical found. Paediatrician gave him a CAMHS referral. They decided that he was stressed and depressed but their services didn't do much to help so we got some private help.

Roll on to just over a month ago and DT1 ended up in hospital with very similar symptoms and was eventually diagnosed with chronic migraine. The headache still hasn't resolved and again we are seeking private help. Stress is the cause once again.

We've had some really rough times over the last couple of years with school refusal, lack of exam revision, depressed and stresssed out kids. At times it has been hard to distinguish between normal teenage rebellion and other causes but there is definitely more to this than just teenage behaviour.

I jokingly told DD (13) that she'd better not have issues over the next few years as I'd be likely to kick her out of the house. Not sure that I can go through this for a third time. So far she's holding up well but she's a completely different character to her brothers.

bigTillyMint Tue 15-Mar-16 20:12:15

God Minifingers, that is some diagnosis. I have followed your threads for years - how can it be that no one thought that she should be escalated to a higher level of intervention? Feel so sorry for your DD, you and all your family having to go through this with an inadequate level of "support"

Child and Teenage MH issues are terribly under-recognised/understood/underfunded sad

Clare1971 Tue 15-Mar-16 21:34:23

Services for children and adolescent mental health are woefully inadequate. I often think MPs should come on these threads and read them to find out what things are really like. In terms of getting a diagnoses though, I suppose it is difficult. I think the almost diagnose by a process of elimination so in your case minifingers if things had imporved with family therapy, they would have said it was family cause, if the CBT had helped, they might have said depression, but once they've tried several things and things still haven't improved then they move on up the list. I guess it would be impossible to diagnose the long list they've given you right at the beginning as the symptoms could cover a lot of things, it's only once it's resistant to treatment that they can say it's x, y or z. After all, treatment resistant depression is exactly that, depression that hasn't responded to treatment - it's more description than a diagnosis. same with body dysmorphia - it's a description of what your poor DD is suffering from but it doesn't really tell us any more about the cause. Whatever they want to call it, there just isn't enough support. And nobody is really asking WHY our young people are suffering so much from MH problems either. What's happening to this generation to make things so much worse? If it is worse - certainly seems it to me.

BikerDad17 Thu 17-Mar-16 11:00:52

My thoughts exactly, Clare1971. What is wrong with this generation of young people & MH that seems worse? I have 2 teen ds's & home life is hell on earth at present.

MajesticWhine Thu 17-Mar-16 12:34:17

Is there something about family life now that is making our children more at risk of mental illness, or at least less resilient? Is it the same in other countries?

Underfunding and inadequacy of CAMHS is just a symptom that then perpetuates the problem. It can't be the cause.

bigTillyMint Thu 17-Mar-16 15:15:52

It's not so much family life IMHO, it's school (well the pressure to achieve, focus, etc) and social media.

MEgirl Thu 17-Mar-16 19:29:19

I've felt for years that it is the UK education system. It's very rigid and in some areas there isn't much support or information for those children who either aren't suitable for A levels/Uni or as in our case have sick kids at the wrongs times throughout the system. There is not enough flexibility so the kids get really stressed about passing each stage at the right time.

Clare1971 Thu 17-Mar-16 21:29:04

Yes, as someone who works in schools I think they have a lot to answer for. I think the introduction of SATs and the continuous message that they have to make x amount of progress each year is hard on them. Also agree that social media is a major risk factor - children can no longer close the door at home and get away from it all.

febel Thu 17-Mar-16 22:05:11

Agree with most of you on here...mental health is woefully underfunded, understaffed and I think, under researched in teenagers and young adults. I have worked with teenagers for the past ten years and have seen a HUGE increase in those with mental health and on the ASD spectrum coming to our educational establishment. I think life today is so stressful for them, a lot of outside pressure, and, I am probably not going to win any popularity votes here, too much time on the internet...social network sites and gaming, not enough face to face contact , dealing with real life, sport and play etc.

LynetteScavo Thu 17-Mar-16 22:15:53

My DS is not mentally ill.

He is well. But only becuase he walked out of Y12 in February and refuses to go back.

The change in him over the last few weeks has been dramatic. We had not realised he was ill, and suffering. sad But he is so much happier and healthier now and I feel we can move forward.

I am immensely proud of him for recognising enough was enough and he couldn't take any more, but at the same time not confident he will be able to cope well in the future without support.

And I'm not sure where to access that support for a 17yo who is academically able, and ASC. (ASD). When he was younger, I could demand a CAMHS apt, even though it would have been a long wait. Now, I wouldn't be able to get him to the GP as he would refuse to go.

I have no anwers, sorry.

flowers to those who are dealing with much worse than my family.

blimppy Thu 17-Mar-16 22:32:12

I'm another one who thinks that the pressures in school are now excessive. From the moment they walk (toddle) through the door they are tested, measured and told what to do to get to the next level. Good is never good enough and the whole process is hugely competitive. I've posted elsewhere about DD1(16) who has anxiety and now depression - and I am thinking possible ADD. She is very bright but now talking about dropping out of A levels and doing an apprenticeship in childcare. Seems a shame in a way but getting her happy and well is the most important thing.

smileyforest Thu 17-Mar-16 23:15:18

Yes another house with a 17.5 yr old son with MH issues, under CAHMS. Tears the family apart...has a ripple effect....work is my escape.....

HormonalHeap Thu 17-Mar-16 23:39:21

Having issues with ds in year 11 at highly academic private school. Learning support is a dirty word, he has never been able to write properly but they've refused to let him type..till just before his GCSE's. He's so, so anxious, turned to gaming as an escape. The school's way of apologising for their error in not allowing him to type was to tell us if he doesn't get 6A*'s he's out. Nurturing, eh?

Fauchelevent Thu 17-Mar-16 23:46:11

I /was/ that teenager very recently. Pre-social media blowing up (2005/6 was when I got sick) I never really read magazines, was never really girly so my self harm, anorexia and depression wasn't really that.

It was ten years ago that I was hospitalised with anorexia and my hospital had a ward for 11-14 year olds, 14-18 year olds and a high dependency ward. Now it has an 11-18 yo ward and a full ward for ED treatment. That broke my heart, things have since got so bad they needed to change the wards.

For me and a lot of the people I knew, we were either well liked, very high achieving, mature youngsters who just became overwhelmed with the sheer pressures on us. I was always told how good and clever I was that whenever my doctors would say how much I'm regressing and getting sicker it felt like an achievement?

It was twofold, I felt like I could be the most anorexic, most sick, most thin and also self-destructing took the pressure off me to get high grades and be the model child and I could be good at something without people congratulating me? Does that make any sense at all?

A lot of people I know in this category have some form of ASD or OCD. Other people I know came from difficult homes, were bullied, suffered abuse and the trauma manifested in that way.

One thing that tended to unite us was how we were never really believed to be sick by teachers and medics. It was all learned behaviour, being too spoilt, slutty, attention seeking. My mum at first thought my depression was caused by getting cable tv!! Having diagnoses and getting help (although camhs failed me and is the reason I still struggle) really helped in the way of helping us be believed, that we had an illness.

I do think it's still as hard or harder for todays teens but now I think MH is being more and more understood and identified. Obviously social media gives more avenues for bullying and idolising certain things that can contribute to illness but I don't like the idea that social media in itself is the cause - in my day it was reading too many magazines and idolising nicole richie and mary kate that people blamed on mh illnesses and that was quite hurtful, it trivialised my illness which came from many places - being an overachiever, being black in a very white community, trauma etc

minifingerz Sat 19-Mar-16 08:37:33

Clare1971 - re: my dd's diagnosis, both she and I are not entirely convinced by the diagnosis of body dysmorphia. I think she got this on the basis of her being unhappy about her physical appearance, her describing feeling that people are looking at her in the street, and her tendency to wear very thick, heavy make up, and make herself late in the mornings because she won't leave the house until her makeup and hair are 'right' and this can take an hour sometimes.

The thing is, dd is a very overweight 16 year old. How many very large girls of this age ARE happy with their appearance? And she does get leered at in the street all the time, because she has a massive chest. I have been with her and been shocked and disgusted by the comments made to her. As for the make up and hair, well I think the team she saw are more used to dealing with middle class girls who tend to be clean faced (as the three girls sitting in the waiting room of the clinic were) than with kids who look and sound like they've escaped from TOWIE like my dd does. All her friends sport the same look - thick foundation, badly done contouring, false eye lashes/heavy mascara, plenty of eye liner, high definition eyebrows. And lots and lots of product in their hair, big false nails etc.

It made me wonder whether there is some cultural bias going on there - that they are seeing disproportionate numbers of m/c kids as they are the ones with parents persistently pushing for a diagnosis and further treatment. I certainly know two girls from disadvantaged families within my community (friends of dd) who clearly have quite major mental health issues who have never even been referred to CAMHS because their parents haven't requested it (or even know of its existence).

Clare1971 Sat 19-Mar-16 10:35:51

Totally with you on the cultural bias mini. I've worked in a PRU (pupil referral unit) for kids who've been excluded from schools and also in a CAMHS unit for kids with MH problems. On the whole, the PRU kids tended to externalise, eg: aggressive or argumentative, whereas as the MH unit kids internalise eg: self harm, eating disorder. BUT the issues these young people have to deal with when you start to uncover things are very, very similar - abuse, neglect, divorce, bullying, school pressure or no cause ever really found. I worry that these children are 'labelled' differently simply because they choose to exhibit their anxiety differently. What's even more worrying though is the class divide. In general the PRU families are, for want of a better term, 'working class' and the MH unit are 'middle class'. Now, it would be easy to write it off as the externalising/internalising difference being linked to working class/middle class but this is clearly not the case. There were actually loads of young people at the PRU who self harmed, but because they were also loud or difficult in other ways they would end up at the PRU. Likewise there were young people at the unit who had been aggressive towards others but these incidents tended to be seen as part of their MH problem, not poor behaviour. Having worked with dozens and dozens of families I'm afraid I've come to the conclusion that children whose parents are reasonably articulate, can speak to 'professionals' without losing their cool and appear to be looking for advise get sent the MH route whereas parents who are less articulate, find it difficult to work with professionals because the professionals are looking down their noses at them and get frustrated to the point of becoming angry or swear get sent the PRU route. Totally, totally unfair I think. It breaks my heart when I think of some of the PRU kids and how much they would have benefited from the MH unit.

HackAttack Sat 19-Mar-16 10:42:30

The problem that CAHMS often come across (not saying it is with your children) is that often children who present with these issues and difficulties are responding to very disruptive households and have experienced so much change and upset it's hard to separate what might be a normal response to things happening and actual mental health.

I've met so many young people where symptoms could be diagnosed as mental health or an attachment disorder.

Lanark2 Sat 19-Mar-16 11:10:38

I think it's really sad that we are calling complex emotional situations mental health 'disorders' so readily. Its almost as though we are saying anyone who isn't dull and good has a disorder and should be medicated. Pushing away feelings and medicating to squeeze them into manageable boxes or ignore them is worse in my view than expressing and/or unpicking them. I bloody loved being miserable, gothy, very anti society and faux-troubled, and am pretty pleased overall that I am not like the dull robots we seem to think are 'normal'

I have to say that I taught in university, and in a community project. The 'problem' kid in community project who said 'this is shit, the class is shit and the exercises were shit' was exactly the same personality type as the uni students who would say 'could we do x next time' the 'mentors' were all 'sorry about that he's got problems at home' and I was all 'OK, fair point, you didn't get what you wanted, what did you want to get, what would be better? Etc etc. He was like a runaway train of ideas if how he would do it better, went on about porn sites and how they bring in users to which the mentors said he is addicted and problematic, but in fact he was making good points about online marketing.

Ok this guy might have been a cock, but being a cock isn't a mental health 'disorder' or 'illness' its about realising his dissatisfaction is valid, and expressing it in better ways gets better results..(though in fact good listeners would pick this up anyway).

I went to a city, and found that what was freaky and concerning in a small town, was normal, interested, and resiliant/effective in a city, and we need to be very cautious of assuming systematic and cultural frustration affecting the individual, is a disorder in the individual.

Thornrose Sat 19-Mar-16 12:27:50

Febel it's a bit chicken and egg regarding gaming and Internet use with a lot of young people with ASD though.

If they have no friends and no social life at all then the Internet can be all they have. It's virtually impossible to engage some young people in sports although in theory it's obviously a good idea.

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