Help! My Child is Depressed

In the world of child therapy it is now being recognised that  more children are suffering from moderate mental health issues in the UK than ever before and the numbers are on the rise.

There may be a number of factors that are contributing to this. For example, children have access to far more resources, gadgets and gizmos than ever before. You would think that this rich living would increase happiness but many of these things cause them to compare what they haven’t got against what others have. Every new gadget is quickly replaced by the manufacturers with a new and improved gadget. In these circumstances it’s a challenge to ever feel fully satisfied.

Family dynamics have changed too compared to say 50 years ago. Life was very different then with children in larger families, able to play outside with a feeling of safety with everyone sitting and eating together later on.

For many children, there is an abundance of information available to them. Schools are making exams more difficult as pupils become brighter. As their world become more intellectual and academic, there is little time left to educate them on emotional intelligence or well being. Child therapy and the work that we do is now as crucial as ever.

Quite simply, some children are depressed because:

–       They haven’t been taught how to manage negative emotions and how to overcome them.

–       They haven’t been taught how to quickly access positive resourceful emotions

–       They do not feel in control of their emotions because they are not taught about how to take responsibility for their thoughts and feelings.

One of the challenges with children who are depressed is that they may not have the language or communication skills to express their feelings. They may not have any concept of what “depressed” means. So the childs behaviour will be the biggest insight into what is going on for them internally.

If a child is overreacting to small problems, frequently tearful and sad, moody most of the time and/or complains of feeling unloved or feeling like an outsider in their home, then they could be suffering from depression.

Ensuring that children and young people (it’s never too late, not even for teenagers!) get an opportunity to talk honestly about their feelings and are given reasonable time to discuss their worries is a great first step. By being listened to, they are also learning the skill to listen and to be respectful of others emotions.

Learning techniques such as those within NLP – anchoring and positive beliefs can help with state management. Giving young people a facility to manage their emotions also begins to teach them unconsciously that they can chose their emotions instead of being at the mercy of them. It means they can begin to learn about taking responsibility too for the reactions towards others.

When this is done early on, communication can be much simpler. With teenagers, engagement in these activities can be a challenge especially for parents who are often the people that have the least amount of communication with their child. In this instance learning these valuable skills from role models such as a teacher, football coach or other respected figure in their life can be incredibly valuable.

By Gemma Bailey

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