Bullied children are being wrongly ‘medicalised’, expert warns

The Telegraph29.04 16, bullied children are being wrongly "medicalised" while schools are failing to deal with the bullies, the Government mental health tsar has warned speaking at the HMC 2016 Spring Conference held in association with ASCL and the Sunday Times Young Minds campaign.

The schools advisor blamed partly teachers for exacerbating stress for children because they apply 'adult pressure' on them.

Her warning emerged as a report by MPs revealed health services and councils are often failing to provide support for children with mental health issues in social care

Addressing private school teachers at a conference on mental health in London, Ms Devon said: "We need to feel safe, we need to feel nurtured, and we need to feel valued. "And if we don't meet these basic needs in our children, we risk them growing up not only without a sense of passion, but also with low self esteem.

"We need to ask ourselves what is causing mental health problems in the first place.

"Because it's my belief that many of these struggles could be avoided if we get our approach right.

"And if we don't, we're giving with one hand and taking away with the other.

"And we run the risk of medicalising childhood."

Some children are pre-disposed to mental illness'

Ms Devon, who has been working in schools since 2007, talking to 500 pupils a week on issues such as body image, banter, bullying and mental health, said that a proportion of child suffers might be "genetically always destined" to have mental illness.

However, she said, others may be "just responding to something that is happening to them".

She added: "If a child is being bullied and they have symptoms of depression because they are being bullied, what they need is for the bullying to stop.

"They need to feel safe again. They don't necessarily need anti-depressants or therapy."

She said too much rigorous testing and academic pressure was adding to anxiety in youngsters.

And she criticised 'nay-sayers' who say 'children need to be acclimatised to stress.'

She added: 'They're part of the problem...You cannot apply an adult amount of pressure to a child brain and expect them to cope."

'Being a teen is harder now'

Ms Devon also said being a youngster today was "harder than it has eve been".

She explained: "Yes, children have more stuff - more possessions. They have more of what they don't need.

"They have less of what they do need.

"Parents work long hours. Family time that is spent together is spent staring at a screen."

She said the culture of schools has become "fiercely competitive" as they push their children to strive academic excellence.

She added: "And all of this is exacerbated by the relentless pace that is set by the internet.

"Online, children face cyber bullying, advertising which tells them they're not good enough, pornography, airbrushed lives."

A report by the Commons Education Committee found a "significant number" of child and adolescent mental health services are turning away vulnerable young people for not meeting diagnostic thresholds or being without a stable placement - something experts told the inquiry was "disgusting and a huge self-esteem blow"

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