BBC School Report

At Uplands Community College, we are proud to say that reporters from years 7, 8 and have been probing the community for those stories that effect our lives and reflect the current economic and political climate.

Through the ‘School Report’ programme, we hope to deliver stories that are topical, thought-provoking and relevant to today’s world.

Adolescent mental health – what do you really know?

Did you know that around 1 in 10 children experience mental health problems? Can you believe that 1 in 4 young people in the UK have experienced suicidal thoughts? In the last 25 years, rates of anxiety and depression have gone up by 70% for teenagers. I bet you didn’t even think about mental health when you woke up this morning, but it is a massive problem.

So many young people in the world are faced with the monumental task of living with a severe mental health problem, and to many other people it isn’t a big deal. How can these people get help when others don’t understand what they are going through, and when there’s still such a stigma attached to it?

Ben (not his real name), a childhood friend, was recently hospitalised at the age of 17 due to severe mental health problems. His mum agreed to answer some questions about their experiences.

In your experience, what are the aggravating factors for teenagers/ adolescents with mental health problems?
Blimey, this is a big one. I feel that the schooling system does not encourage self love, belief and joy of learning, but rather instils deep fear, something that (obviously) activates the fight or flight mechanism within our bodies. Fear of not getting to class on time, fear of being stupid, fear of failing, fear of being told off, fear, fear, fear.

For an adolescent who is going through huge bodily changes, to be in this state of fear is absolutely going to have an effect on the person’s whole well-being. Coupled with this teenagers now have social media to contend with as well as violent and all absorbing computer games. Stress, stress and more stress.

How do you think adolescents can best deal with any mental health problems they may have? (What would you say to someone with a mental health problem?)
Difficult, I think one of the most important things is to help them to recognise that they are struggling before things get too bad. Again, this can be very difficult as they tend to withdraw from company. Talking to someone they can completely trust is very important. They must be able to talk openly without fear of judgement or recrimination.

What do you think are the key things to remember when looking after someone with mental health problems?
Firstly (and this IS the hardest) is to take care of yourself properly. You cannot be of any help if you are struggling too. To remain supportive, non-judgmental, loving but gently try and challenge some of their beliefs. Listening is a really big one.

Why do you think people find it hard to talk about their mental health?
Because they see it as a failure. That they are ‘weak’ and ‘crazy’. Fear of being ‘put away’. Fear of judgement. Fear of losing ‘control’.

What are your experiences of the care the NHS provides and how do you think it could be improved?
Crikey, where do I start! I feel the whole system is ‘wrong’. To have a more healing approach would be a good place to start, to create places that are calming, beautiful, that teach self-love and appreciation, to discover talents rather than seeking out more wrongs. To celebrate our individuality and encourage self-confidence to embrace our perceived differences. Now it is all about how many labels can we smack onto children and adolescents. We need to start looking at the root cause and that’s our society that embraces materialism, self-gain, how you look.

The CAHMS team failed to help my son during a period of pharmaceutical drug induced psychoses twice. This was during time spent in A & E, again with NO help or support. We were sent home saying we could ‘cope’ on our own at home…...We were on 24 hour a day suicide watch. After being in intensive care at an adolescent mental health hospital we still receive no support…..My son is ‘on the waiting list’ for CBT and we are on ‘the waiting list’ for family support…. In the meantime we have not had one phone call from anyone to see how Ben is or to see how we are…. We continue to be on suicide watch….People with ASD are particularly being let down again and again by NHS and education. I could write a book, as I’m sure your mum could on the failings of the NHS and Local Education Authority to support my son and myself.
I feel more damage than good has been done by the odd occasion people from NHS try to ‘help’ (but in no way do they actually give a damn). So called professionals are, I feel, looking at this ‘problem’ back to front.
To get the other side of the story, I asked a GP, Dr Amanda Keeling , who has training in child and adolescent Mental Health, a few questions:

What are the NHS doing to support and treat adolescents with mental health problems?

Unfortunately adolescents with mental health problems is an increasing problem for various reasons. It is a very recognised area of concern. There are several areas that are being tackled through joint programs with schools and social areas. School nurses and school accessed schemes are some of the main ways that adolescent mental health is trying to be tackled and school nursing is more than the person who sits in the sick room. There are fully qualified nurses who are trying to help but they are not usually based in one school but more around an area.

There is of course Child and adolescent mental health services for the more severely affected people as well. These are the specialist secondary care services.

Do you think the NHS is doing enough?
The easy answer is no- we all know the NHS isn't doing enough but the adolescent mental health problem has expanded exponentially and there is inadequate supply of child mental health workers- this has been an area where it has been difficult to fill posts for over a decade as there are a lack of people wanting to train because of the role involved. Those that do therefore are unfortunately overwhelmed by the huge influx and have to limit the care to those that most need it. The mental health of adolescents does seem to be an area in decline - the reasons are not clear and partly it does seem to be society, but no, the NHS cannot keep up at the moment and even using the private sector as well there is a serious shortage of qualified people. There is a pressure to fill the roles but this can only be done if there are the staff trained.

Ben’s experiences seem to illustrate that even professionals don’t seem to be dealing with mental health as well as they should and it is such a significant, life threatening problem. However, talking to someone from within the service, we can see that the problem seems to involve a lack of resources to deal with a growing mental health issue in the adolescent community.

Not everyone is as lucky as Ben is; he has a loving, and well informed support network in his family, what about the young people who don’t? The question is, why can’t we do more to help when there are 450 million people worldwide suffering from a mental health problem? We need to know what do when around 16% of our world’s population are scared, confused, fearful, lost, and unhappy and in need of help that sometimes just doesn’t seem to be there. We need to learn. We need to listen. We need to love.

Reported by Amelia

Are young people with mental health issues getting the right amount of support?

Mental health is a growing matter that shouldn’t be pushed aside. Why is it still not getting the right amount of attention and support?

One in every ten young people are suffering from a diagnosed mental health disorder-that’s about three in every class. Surely it couldn’t get any worse than that? But it does. Between one in every twelve and one in every fifteen young people deliberately self-harm themselves and the number of young people being submitted to hospital due to self-harm has drastically increased in the last few years. In fact by 68%.

Funding for the NHS has been cut by 8% since 2010 which is almost £600 million! Supposedly, 75% of people with mental health issues are getting no help, but is this true?
We then when out on the streets and asked people some questions related to mental health to see their point of view:

When someone says to you “mental health issues” what do you immediately think?

  • Automatically thinks of a disabled person;
  • Immediately thinks of someone’s emotional well-being;
  • Well-being of how someone feels themselves general mental health.

What do you think mental health issues are?

  • Not really sure but thinks, general stability and how well you are in your head;
  • Someone with psychological problems;
  • Illness that effects the brain.

Are you close to anyone who is suffering from mental issues or has been and how had this affected you?

  • No;
  • Yes and when I’ve been around them it’s like treading on eggshells, you have to be extra sensitive of their feelings than usual;
  • Yes for a while.

Do you treat people with mental health issues differently?

  • No;
  • Tries not to treat them differently but she, and most people, do without meaning to;
  • Treats them with more love.

Do you think there is enough help on the NHS for people with mental issues?

  • Probably not;
  • There is enough but just not very good quality and it’s great that there are people willing to help for free;
  • Becoming better known.

Do you think that more people are suffering from mental issues from ever before?

  • Yes because of Stresses of everyday life;
  • More people are suffering because it is better known so now people know that what they are feeling has a name and that there are more people out there who are going through the same thing.

Are young people with mental issues getting the help they need?

  • Possibly but many people still think that it is ‘just a phase’;
  • Probably not;
  • Not sure but I hope so.

My cousin Emma, aged 27, lived with a girl with mental health issues and tells us that she felt like she was her responsibility when they were at university because their parents obviously weren’t there. “It was especially hard because she didn't want her family to know she was suffering as she thought they would take her out of university to go back home (which is what eventually happened).” Emma tells us. We asked her if it affected her grades and she replied with, “Luckily the university were understanding and I was given an extension on one of my essays because they knew what was going on. Otherwise my grades would have suffered. But generally doing my work was a time when I could escape from worrying about my friend, so it didn't affect my work too much.” This tells us that although my cousin didn’t have mental health issues she was still effected by someone who did.

We then asked her if she felt like she had someone she could go to if she needed help or wanted a break, she answered with, “I was very lucky as my university tutor, Grant, was exceptionally helpful and kind. Most of the tutors weren't as involved with the students and didn't get to know them very well, and my original tutor was just like this…. So when my friend became ill, Grant was the person I called. He came over to our house to help and was very supportive. But as I said, he was really a one off.” She also explained to us that, “My friend's mental health issues meant that she needed a lot of support and someone really needed to be with her all the time. Most of the staff are academic only, and when someone is having mental health problems, it's not academic support that you need!” I think this is a very good point and shows that there should be trained professionals at school not teachers who aren’t familiar of what to do in these situations.

Another question we asked Emma was if it effected her lifestyle and she explained that, “It effected my lifestyle a lot. I spent a lot of time at home, keeping her company, or doing things for her like cooking or shopping for her. I relied a lot more on my friends to give me the support that I needed in turn. Even when I did have time to go out and have fun, I was usually worried about her and felt like I should be at home. It's hard to think about much else when someone you live with is suffering from mental health issues.” This shows that young people with friends who have mental health issues sometimes feel guilty about leaving them and going and having fun themselves; even if it is only for a short amount of time.

Finally, we asked her the most important question which this whole article is about: Do you think that young people with mental health issues are getting the right amount of support? She replied very honestly with, “In a word, no. I think there is growing awareness which is great. But relatively little is known about the brain and about mental health, and I don't think most medical professionals or doctors have the knowledge or experience to cope with young people's mental health issues. The focus of medicine has been on the 'physical body' and not the mind, ie: the brain. But the brain is part of the body! I think there is a long way to go before young people are getting the right amount of support. When I talked to doctors with my friend it was clear that there was very little they could do for her, and what they were doing wasn't very helpful.” I think that this clearly states to us that there is still quite a long way to go before young people with mental health issues are getting the right amount of support but at least people are becoming more aware of what mental health is.

The NHS in England today commits to the “biggest transformation of mental health care across the NHS” pledging to help over 1million people with mental health issues a year and are investing over £1million a year from 2020/21. They provide, on their easy to get to website, lots of advice on different types of mental health and advice on how to get help. A quote from The Guardian tells us that they do change a lot of young people’s lives, “The NHS isn’t perfect when it comes to mental illness – but it all boils down to money in the end, and the lack of it leading to a lack of resources. I know that the doctors, nurses and support workers are trying their absolute best with what they have, and that is to be applauded.” This is said by a girl who suffered from severe mental health and tried to kill herself on several occasions but was saved by the NHS.

All of this information tells us that although the NHS may not be perfect and that they are definitely not helping enough young people with mental health issues, they are still trying, in some cases, to help young people and I think that you have to remember that the NHS is a big organisation and that there are obviously going to be some doctors and nurses who will try harder than others.

Reported by Emily and Issey

Budget Cuts: What Difference does it Make?

The Guardian states, “Sunderland Council said in a statement:'Because of budget cuts and the government’s austerity programme, the council is reviewing and remodelling many services.' ”

Many councils will be and have been experiencing budget cuts. East Sussex Music Service, for example, is funded by East Sussex County Council (as well as by those who pay for lessons), but due to these budget cuts I am worried that the Music Service will no longer have enough money to run lessons or that lesson fees will become more expensive so less students will be able to attend.

This is important to me because music gives me a chance to express myself and it can be a great escape. In fact, Nordic Journal of Music Therapy and Journal of Clinical Nursing have scientifically proven that music really helps mental health by:

  • Reducing some symptoms of depression;
  • Reducing stress;
  • Improving moods.

I do hope that the Government will not be removing services such as music services, because although I am sure there are other just as worthy causes, I feel mental health is a huge issue in today’s society, with 1 in 4 people suffering from mental health at some point in their lives, and I think music can be a great tool to reduce that number significantly.

To be updated.

Reported by Lucille

How Brexit will affect the South East?

A few years ago, a referendum was held on the 23rd June 2016 to decide whether to leave the European Union. The vote was 52% to leave and 48% to stay. However, have you considered what it will do for the country? Have you ever considered what it will do for the local area? I am here to answer a very important question- How Brexit will affect the South East.

As you know, Brexit is a play on words between “Britain” and “exit” to show when you’re talking about it you mean Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. What Brexit will do is invoke article 50 so England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can exit the EU and be free to make laws without European Union guidelines. But, our freedom is delayed due to treaty terms so we leave in March 2019.

The reason that we left was because a UK independence party, UKIP, and also some political help from other parties wanted to make Britain independent. The UK is unique for this as no other country has left the European Union before.

Here is a table of all the things Britain will be effected by from Brexit:

Pros Cons
No membership fee of £8.5 billion per year  Lose negotiating power of trade in the EU
We can determine who comes into the UK  Less job security for people in our country
We can establish our own trade agreements with other countries outside Europe  EU may not cooperate on border security for the UK

This is what to expect when the South East is being effected by Brexit:

Business activity starts dropping

According to a recent survey, the South East has seen a contraction in business sales since July. This is because of the weaker pound.

Rises in house costs
Because of the UK weakened economy, house prices are higher. 2.1% to 8.9% rises in housing across the South East.

More access to the single market

In a recent survey, 62% of the South East voted that more access to the single market was their top priority. The government would probably solve this issue in negotiating with the EU.

Less fruit and livestock
Sources tell us that non-UK born workers are vital to harvesting fruit. Livestock may also be an issue as well.

Less immigrants

In the coastal towns, especially Dover. Immigrants try to get into the country every day. However, now that we can control our borders, we can ban them from the country.

To find out people’s opinion of this, I asked around the South East to find their views about the upcoming future. A man from East Sussex quotes: “I think it will affect our community a lot as all of these changes are new to us.” Another quoted "I think all of this is nonsense! it won’t affect us down here in the South East, only cities and big towns”.

Nusrat Ghani, MP for Wealden in the South East, was willing to comment on how Brexit will affect her constituency and the UK.

Did you vote to leave or stay in the EU?

I voted to leave the EU – the United Kingdom is a strong and independently-minded country which is more than capable of forging its own way in the world. A truly sovereign country must be one in which laws are made here at home – only after Brexit can that happen.

How do you think Brexit will affect the South East?

It will free the South East’s economy from the red tape and bureaucracy of the EU. There are so many rules and so many limitations currently affecting our businesses, not least the fact that they cannot benefit from free trade deals with countries around the world. Now Britain is open, and we can all benefit from the new opportunities available to us. This is a real opportunity to make sure our workforce reflects the local and national jobs market – having just been appointed by the Government as Chair of the Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network, I’m looking forward to doing my bit to ensure that we enhance the skills and opportunities available to all in society.

How do you plan to mitigate the effects of Brexit in your constituency and in the local area?

We have already seen that the British economy has grown since our vote to leave, by 0.6% in the three months immediately after the vote. And although the pound has fallen, this has hugely helped British businesses exporting overseas. In the local area, we have to make sure that the agricultural and farming sector, which receives significant subsidies from the EU, is supported as we move towards leaving. As parliamentary representative for the Conservative Rural Affairs Group, I am already having conversations with ministers at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to make sure that Wealden’s farmers and rural businesses are supported.

What part of the country do you think may suffer the consequences of Brexit the most?

We must make sure that no part of the country suffers, and I am confident that nowhere will. Brexit is a huge opportunity for every section of British society and every area of the United Kingdom – by grabbing that opportunity with full enthusiasm, we can make a huge success of it.

In conclusion, we have voted to leave the EU and by doing so there was a risk. We didn’t know the consequences of the action we took. We have tried to find out what's going to happen, globally and locally but no one knows for sure how the aftermath effect is going to happen. However, we know one thing; that the UK will never be the same again.

Reported by Harry