Many children who have gone into care suffer from issues to do with anxiety and mental health. Those who choose to adopt may find that their children may be in need of additional support and care to help tackle issues of anxiety and to boost their overall wellbeing.
According to research conducted by IRISS, ‘ Around half of mental health problems start before 15 years of age, and 75% before 18. Nine out of ten children who have been abused or neglected at a young age will develop a mental health problem by the age of 18. 65% of young people who have a mental health need are not currently receiving any statutory service support. Despite this Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) make up less than 1% of the NHS budget (NYAS, 2019).
This is extremely worrying statistics and one that should make us all reflect on the importance of having stability and mental health support for young children and young people. In addition, IRISS found that Care experienced children and young people have consistently been found to have much higher rates of mental health difficulties than the general population, including a significant proportion who have more than one condition (The Mental Health Foundation, 2002). They are approximately four times more likely to have a mental disorder than children living in their birth families (NSPCC, 2015). Almost half (rising to three quarters in residential homes) meet the criteria for a psychiatric disorder (NSPCC, 2014; Coram Voice, 2015; Social Market Foundation, 2018)
It is with this in mind that we should find actionable steps to help tackle anxiety and mental wellbeing in the children we care for. Here are some steps you could take as a parent:
Talking to your child about their feelings is extremely important and is the first step in addressing any problems with anxiety. It is important to make time for your child and talk through problems to find solutions to their concerns or worries that they may be having.
Encourage positive thinking
Many children with anxiety often think negatively about things and need further reassurance to remind them of times when they have dealt with things well. They should be positively reinforced to think that they can deal with any anxiety that occurs.
Don’t worry about mistakes
Anxious children often worry that they will make a mistake or do something wrong. It is important to encourage children to have a go, regardless if they make a mistake and that its okay to make mistakes and work on improving.