Mental Health Disorders in Children and Young People

Mental Health

Mental health is a topic that has only very recently come into the forefront after an incredibly long period of silence. It is often something that people prefer not to address, or feel is not relevant to them and can in turn be a misunderstood subject. The negative stigma and discrimination around mental health can be driving force in stopping people with mental health disorders seek help. Therefore, it is important that we all contribute to raising awareness of the reality of mental health and its importance in people of all ages and backgrounds.

NHS Survey

My name is Sabrina and I am a Research Scientist at Future Genetics. From January 1999 to December 2017, the NHS carried out major surveys of the mental health of children and young people in England and published a report of the findings on the 22nd of November of this year. A number of different types of disorders were assessed for with ‘rigorous, detailed and consistent methods’. Amongst these disorders were; emotional disorders, behavioural disorders, hyperactivity disorders and less common disorders.

Results

Overall, the results showed that one in eight (12.8%) of 5 to 19 year olds have at least one mental health disorder, primarily being emotional disorders, as you can see by this bar chart (Figure 1). This also represents the rise in rates of emotional mental health disorders as age increases.

Mental Health Disorders in Children and Young People

Figure 1: Rates of different types of disorder in 5 to 19-year olds by age. (NHS Digital, 2018)

Mental Health and Gender

From ages 2 to 10, boys were more likely than girls to have a disorder, with boys aged 5 to 10 being almost twice as likely than girls of the same age to have a mental health disorder. Amongst the 11 to 16-year olds, girls and boys were equally likely to have a disorder. However, girls between the ages of 17 and 19 were more than twice as likely as boys to have a disorder.

Young Women

Compared with any other demographic group, rates of emotional mental disorders and self-harm were reported to be the highest in young women aged 17 to 19, as presented in the NHS survey. Over half (52.7%) of these girls reported to have self-harmed or had attempted to commit suicide. 5.6% of the girls identified with Body Dysmorphia (BDD) and 1.6% had an eating disorder.

Associations of Mental Disorders

There are multiple influences that can increase the onset of mental health disorders in children, with one being the functioning of the child’s family. In some cases, however, mental health disorders may be the cause of problems within families, which therefore forms a vicious cycle. A child’s mental health can also be affected by their parent’s mental health, the child’s support network, how much they participate in their social surrounding and adverse life events (e.g. Parental separation and/or financial struggles at home).

Other factors that can influence a child’s mental health is their physical well-being and daily social media use. Children aged 11 to 19 with a mental disorder were 10% more likely to use social media daily compared to children of the same age without a disorder. A growing problem linked to social media is the impact it has on young people’s self-esteem, as they are constantly comparing themselves to the perfect picture and consequently thinking less of their own lives.

Contact

This survey showed that 1 in 4 children (24.1%) with a disorder had no professional or informal support. This support is critical and can prove to be life-saving in some cases. It is important to acknowledge that regardless of what their age is, we should all be thinking about improving and supporting the mental health of children and young people and raising awareness of this issue.

If you need any help or information regarding child mental health, please phone or visit any of the numbers or sites down below.

NHS Mental Health Helplines

Written by Sabrina K Bolia (Future Genetics Research Scientist)

NHS Long Term Plan – An Alternative to Hospitals

Hospital Admissions – are they necessary?

The NHS has reported that presently, around 2500 hospital beds are unnecessarily occupied by patients who are well and fit enough to be discharged but choose to stay due to the unavailability or delay of social care and support in their homes or communities. Going to the hospital is usually the only option for some.

A New Approach

My name is Sabrina and I am a Research Scientist at Future Genetics. On the 21st of November, Theresa May made a public announcement explaining that more NHS patients will be cared for and supported in their own homes and local communities. Subsequently, this will lessen unnecessary hospital stays and admissions and allow people to receive treatment specific to them, closer to home.

Budget Boost

In addition to the existing budget for primary and community healthcare, the prime minister has set out a major investment boost in these services; worth £3.5 billion a year in real terms by 2023/4, as part of the NHS Long Term Plan. This will go towards building community-based rapid response teams; consisting of doctors, nurses and physiotherapist who will be able to give urgent care and support to patients as well as emergency treatment, preventing the need to go to hospital.

The NHS Long Term Plan 

The NHS Long Term Plan will also help to provide more dedicated support to older people in care homes, as most of the time hospital admissions from care homes are avoidable. For some, especially older people, needlessly staying in a hospital bed for extended periods of time could be detrimental to their health. The longer they stay in bed, the faster their muscles waste, which not only risks their health but also their independence.

Personalised Healthcare 

This plan would allow patients to get the care they specifically need in order to stay healthy and help them to stay independent for longer. It helps not only the patients, but also lessens the burden on the NHS. In her announcement, Theresa May mentioned that ‘the longer a patient stays in hospital, the more it costs the NHS and the more pressure is put on the hard-working staff’. With the pressure the NHS is facing, in most cases, the best they can offer is a standard ‘one size fits all’ approach, which may not prove to be effective in some groups of patients and so time, money and resources get wasted. This new focus on primary and community healthcare, can allow for a more tailored approach specific to the needs of the individual. 

Delays

Delays are also a huge problem which are caused as a result of unnecessary hospital admission and stays. This can be delays in waiting times, delays for other patients, delays in routine operations and delays in transferring care between the NHS and social care services. The NHS Long Term Plan will help to aid patients in leaving sooner or even help to avoid them being admitted into hospital to begin with. Relieving this pressure on the NHS, could essentially free up to 2000-3000 beds.

The Future of the NHS 

The extra time, money and resources saved could also be used to focus on preventative measures and cures, instead of management and control, in addition to more personalised treatment. This could be a big step for the NHS, but first the way in which primary and community healthcare work together must change. 

Written by Sabrina K Bolia (Future Genetics Research Scientist)

Better Science through Better Data

Better Science through Better Data

Data

Data, to some, can be overwhelming to comprehend. With the prospect of data sharing and ensuring teams have the right people and support, data can lead to great changes and improvements in a number of different fields, across a wide scale of investigational areas.

#scidata18

My name is Sabrina and I am a Research Scientist at Future Genetics. On the 14th of November, Springer Nature held the ‘Better Science through Better Data’ event in London at the Natural History Museum. The event consisted of a series of thought-provoking lightning talks as well as an international line-up of keynote speakers. The main theme of the event was the role and impact data has and can have on the future of science and research.

Data Sharing

The advantages data sharing could have in the world of science are endless. Not only will that particular professional gain scientific credit amongst a huge audience, but they are also giving something back to the science community, as it could mean new approaches to problems, improvements upon identification of diseases (which in turn could improve the effectiveness of treatments).

It could also allow reporting and acknowledgement of novel bio markers and in some cases, adapting the data to accommodate an entirely different investigational study. Data can also be used to build on ideas and methods, as well as open doors to new collaborations and analysis.

Barriers

The question arises of how data sharing can affect the patients or subjects from whom data is acquired from. There is uncertainty around the privacy of patient information and the risk of data being traceable and identifiable. As a Scientist, patient confidentiality and privacy should be a primary concern, as part of Good Clinical and Good Ethical Practice.

Compromising patient privacy and trust is non-negotiable, regardless of the potential benefits data sharing may have. This is just one of the many considerations that must be taken into account before exposing data.

The Right People with the Right Skills

Presently, the requirements for sufficient data management are often unmet and various surveys have shown this is because of a lack of knowledge or support, rather than a lack of technology. Therefore, to tackle this problem, some teams have appointed a data steward at every facility of theirs, who can offer this support and assist the team in various ways, including; training, advice, tools and archiving. The Data Steward is more equipped at handling and managing data, whilst being realistic about making incremental changes which in turn will ensure requirements are met.

Conclusion 

The use of data is so widespread, ranging from education, to research, to guidance. So although it may seem bothersome, it is clear that Better Data could in fact lead to Better Science.

 

Management of the Consequences of Cancer and its Treatment in Primary Care

Management of the Consequences of Cancer and its Treatment in Primary Care

Introduction

Times are changing. Cancer is changing. The number of people surviving 10 years or over past their original cancer diagnosis is accelerating. However, the quality of life (QoL) of these patients/survivors is far from a life of ease; as it is during this time that patients can face the unfortunate consequences of their cancer and their treatment. These consequences are often overlooked and can have a significantly negative impact on the well-being of the individual.

My name is Sabrina, and I am a Research Scientist at Future Genetics.

Last week, I attended one of the key NHS Primary Care conferences, which was held at the National Exhibition Center.

I attended several interesting talks, and there was one that stood out in particular.

NAPC Annual Conference 2018 

Dr Anthony Cunliffe, a Macmillan National Lead GP Adviser, spoke at the NAPC Annual Conference 2018  last week regarding the ‘Management of the consequences of cancer and its treatment in Primary Care’. He began by telling the audience about his late mother’s cancer journey; including the screening, diagnosis, treatment, symptoms and follow up treatment. Although his mother managed to beat both breast and bowel cancer, the life she led following her treatment was extremely poor.She was offered limited support and the GP was not fully aware of how the cancer, despite being gone, was still affecting her life.

Quality of Life

Raising awareness of the importance and the extent of these consequences of cancer can have a great impact on the understanding and care provided by primary care teams and consequently the QoL of cancer patients/survivors.

For this to happen, primary care teams must consider not only the physical needs of the patient, such as managing unwanted side effects, co-existing conditions or risk of recurrence. They should also consider the practical and personal needs, such as; mobility, cooking and personal care.

Presently, these needs are often unmet due to several reasons, for example; lack of clear communication between primary care and patients or limited knowledge or confidence in identifying and managing the consequences of cancer/treatment.

Time for change

Patients deserve to have a decent QoL and just as with any other condition, a better understanding is a step forward towards more effective care.

At Future Genetics we are focusing on a number of key disease areas, including cancer, given the devastating consequences of these illnesses.

Pictured: Sabrina Bolia (Future Genetics Research Scientist) at the NAPC Annual Conference 2018