5 Top Tips tips to support mental health in neurodivergent young people this summer*

*This is a sponsored post from Lavinia Dowling, Mental Health & Autism Specialist Nurse Consultant. Director and Founder, The M Word CIC

Today we hear from Lavinia Dowling of The M Word CIC with her top tips for helping you support your young person’s mental health this summer.

Today’s world is busier and more fast-paced than ever. Children are navigating busy school environments with increasing pressures from the education system, as well as growing up in a social system that often overlooks the struggles our young ones face. As a result, more young people are battling mental health issues, and the demand for CAMHS support keeps escalating. With long wait times, endless delays and a tough criteria just to get a referral accepted, it’s no wonder so many young people are struggling with their mental health.

We’re in an era where mental health and neurodiversity are major topics of conversation. Sometimes, it’s about the rising concerns of numbers of young people struggling, and other times, it’s about the importance of raising awareness and reducing the stigma that unfortunately is sometimes seen with mental health and neurodiversity. 

At The M Word CIC, we’re a passionate team dedicated to supporting children, young people and even adults with their mental health and neurodiversity. Taking care of our children’s mental health - along with our own - has never been more crucial. 

Mental Health vs Physical Health 

Mental Health in today’s society is more talked about than it has ever been. It’s still sometimes seen as a difficult area to talk about, but times have changed in the way mental health is viewed. Mental Health difficulties can affect any one of us, no matter your age.

Compared to our physical health, mental health is often not seen or understood in the same way as being unwell with a physical health problem. However, physical illness and mental illness are both equally as important when looking at our health. 

Back in January, the last government introduced their ‘Moments, Matter, Attendance Counts’ campaign. This focuses strongly on the view that attendance is linked to attainment and there is evidence to support this. However, pushing for 100% attendance leaves parents feeling they have to push their child to school even when physically or mentally unwell. 

Additionally, schools seem more ready to authorise absence due to physical illness, but there’s a great inconsistency across the country in whether to authorise absence for mental ill health, despite government guidance that there should be parity.

Lavinia wears a white top and has brown mid-length hair. Her team member has blonde straight hair and both are smiling
Lavinia (left) and team member Ellie

We wanted to help

The M Word CIC came about when I was working within Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). There was a worrying number of referrals of neurodivergent young people whose school-related anxiety didn’t fit the criteria for support. I felt very passionately that something had to be done, given the increasing number of referrals in younger people, and so launched The M Word CIC. I also experienced difficulties throughout my own childhood with a late diagnosis of AuADHD (Autism and ADHD) and Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA). Additionally, I’ve faced challenges in supporting my neurodivergent children during their school years.

Here at The M Word CIC, we know your mental health is important, we recognise the difficulties in accessing mental health support and services, and we want to make sure you are supported by qualified professionals. Although we are separate from the NHS, we still follow the NICE guidelines, as well as adhere to a professional Code of Conduct (Education and Health).

So far this year we’ve supported 54 individuals or families through mental health assessments and neurodiversity screenings. Our M Word community has raised over £750 so far this year that’s been shared between families needing a bit of financial support to access our services. We see some of the most complex presentations in neurodivergent young people in the country. 91% have both autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), while 98% have Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA). 3% of all our clients are adults, 27% are teenagers, and 70% are children aged 12 and under, struggling with their mental health (anxiety and low mood)

5 tips to support Mental Health:

These tips work equally well for your child or young person, just for yourself, or for the two of you together!

  1. Make the most of the warmer weather to take a walk together, spending some time outside in the fresh air.
  2. Use a notebook or journal, or your phone’s notes app, to jot down thoughts, feelings or ideas. It’s a great way to clear things from your head—and to remember something for the next day.
  3. Have some ‘me’ time—even if just a few minutes—each day. Whether that’s watching your favourite TV show, reading a book, or taking part in a hobby or interest, try to create a little bit of time to unwind in something you enjoy.
  4. Arrange a catch-up with a friend or family member, either in-person, via video, or just over messaging if that’s all you can manage.
  5. Try to relax and get enough sleep and rest for your body. Using meditation tracks or white noise can help with this. Be aware that when clocks change twice a year, it can be unsettling to sleep, like jet lag.

The M Word CIC, Supporting young people with their mental health and neurodiversity

EMail:info@the-m-wordcic.co.uk Phone: 07928232037

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