physical conditions

A new initiative to prevent mental health problems arising in children with long-term physical conditions has been successfully piloted across Scotland

Long-term conditions, such as arthritis, spinal bifida, epilepsy and diabetes often have a profound impact on the mental health of children and young people.

Those living with long-term conditions are more likely to experience psychological problems due to prolonged stress, which can alter immunity, making illness more likely and recovery more difficult.

It was reported that they account for 80% of GP consultations and 30% of people with long-term conditions suffer from mental health problems.

The ‘Ucan’ project, led by the Mental Health Foundation, aims to prevent mental health problems arising in adulthood by supporting children and young people earlier.

A key component of the project is working with health charities to deliver “Stress Less” workshops. These interactive workshops include tools such as ‘Ucards’ which allow children to communicate their emotional needs to others through Red Amber Green cards.

Scotland’s Year of Young People

Children and Youth Manager at the Mental Health Foundation, Rachel Hood, said: “Young people with these conditions have told us that it can be difficult to feel understood and that this can make them feel different from their peers, which is often isolating.

“With more day to day self-care required to stay well, simple activities can be a bit more complex so life can feel more stressful too. We are working with some great health charities to explore strategies and resources that can help young people communicate what’s going on for them and to strengthen their resilience.

“In Scotland’s Year of Young People, it is vital that we shine a spotlight on the experiences of our most vulnerable young people but also that we act on what they tell us needs to change – to improve their lives and protect others from the same adversity.

“Now that the pilot is complete we look forward to working with schools and youth organisations across Scotland to support children with long-term conditions and help them succeed.”

Mental Health Minister, Maureen Watt, said: “The conversation on mental health takes on particular significance during 2018, the Year of Young People.

“Our ambitious 10-year strategy, backed by investment of £150 million over the next five years, sets out clearly how we can improve early intervention, and ensure better access to services.

We want people to get the right help at the right time, expect recovery, and fully enjoy their rights, free from discrimination and stigma. Whether in schools, workplaces, communities or care facilities, the strategy will see us take forward an initial 40 actions to shape change.”


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