Relate West Surrey( RWS) has found a noticeable shift in the demand for counselling from adults to children and young people seeking help for their mental health.  We have seen a significant rise.

According to The Children’s Society, the likelihood of young people having a mental health problem in the last three years has increased by 50%, and five children in a classroom of 30 will likely have a mental health problem.

Their Good Childhood Report 2022 shows that children’s happiness continues to decline.

Commenting on the new research, David Stephenson, Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer at Mind, said,

“The prioritisation of academic achievement cannot be at the expense of mental well-being. As a young person struggling with mental health, learning and participating in school life can be a significant challenge.

You want someone to listen to you, try to understand what is happening and help you get the support you need. Our inquiry has found that this isn’t happening.” 

As part of its inquiry, Mind consulted with over 2,870 young people, parents and caregivers of young people affected by mental health problems, mental health professionals, and school staff across England.

The study’s key findings

The charity, through carrying out its research, found that –

  • Almost seven in 10 young people reported being absent from school due to their mental health;
  • Some young people said their mental health problems were treated as bad behaviour rather than them being supported to address underlying issues; and
  • Some reported being sent into isolation, physically restrained, or excluded from school for this reason. The inquiry also revealed that –
  • 62% of young people received no support from school for their mental health;
  • Nearly half of the young people had been disciplined at school for behaviour that was related to their mental health. In the most severe cases, young people reported being physically restrained and put in isolation away from friends and peers;
  • One in four school staff (25%) knew a student being excluded from school because of their mental health

How can parents better communicate with their children? At Relate West Surrey, we see parents and teenagers in conflict, and it can be hard for parents to know where to turn. 

Teenagers usually have clear ideas about what pressures their generation faces and if these affect them personally. At Relate West Surrey, parents are encouraged to discuss these issues openly. Talking about a subject in general terms and not about your child can be a good way to bring up sensitive topics. It also reassures your child that you want to understand and care for them.

Children’s and young people’s brains are ‘rewiring’ for adulthood, which can mean they are more at risk of developing mental health problems. Many people coping with emotional distress in adulthood first experience this as a teenager.

There has been a rise in young people experiencing mental health issues in recent years, but there is no clear agreement as to why.

Help and advice Is available on our new website, which launched on the 15th of May. For top tips on ways to talk to your teenager, here is a case study and our own counsellor’s personal experience:

Case Study April ‘22

This is the story of a family that came for counselling with Relate West Surrey. The family consisted of a mother, father, daughter and son, but only the mother and son took part in the sessions. It is, however, important to mention all family members, as part of the counselling was looking at the wider system the mother and son were part of.

Mother and son came for counselling to improve their relationship and thus hoping to have less arguments. Part of the counselling was talking about the impact their relationship and arguments had on the rest of the family and systemically looking at how all family members were affected even though they were not directly involved in the conflict. The father, daughter/sister would automatically be drawn in and take sides

There were conversations about what mother and son could do together and what they could talk about. There was very little progress as the son said, “There was no point!”.

In one of their last sessions the son asked for some time on his own with the counsellor. He told the counsellor that the previous sessions had made him realise that he would need to open up and be more transparent in order to improve his relationship with his mother and, thereby the family dynamics.

He disclosed that for the last 4 years, he had been feeling very low and had often thought of self-harming even though he had never done anything to hurt himself. Upon hearing this, the counsellor asked the direct question, “Have you ever thought of killing yourself?” to which the son answered “yes”. The counsellor did a full risk assessment, and it transpired that even though the son had thoughts of killing himself, there were no plans, no intent, and there were protective factors. The son explained that he could never do “it” to his parents and had future plans. He wanted to go to university.

This conversation proved to be a turning point in the counselling. The counsellor pointed out that she would need to tell his mother and gave the son a choice to tell her himself with the counsellor present. The son asked for the counsellor to speak for him with him present.

With the mother and son present, the counsellor was very careful to use the son’s words and be his voice. The mother responded with relief as she at long last, knew what her son was going through.

The following sessions were open and honest, and the son’s willingness to speak with transparency meant that the relationship between mother and son became less distant, and they could spend time together without conflict. The impact on the family was significant.

In the last family session, the son expressed a wish to have individual counselling, which he had been refusing until then.

If you need further information about children & young people counselling please call 01483 602998 or email, or fill in the contact form on the website.


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