Mansfield counsellor takes a very real look at mental illness in adolescents

New research has suggested nearly a quarter of 14 year-old girls in the UK are now self-harming, writes Jason Hanson of Jason Hanson Counselling

This shouldn’t come as a surprise as only three months ago, an article was published highlighting the rise in school referrals for child mental health treatment.

Mental health issues are affecting young people more and more

I recently spoke to a 21-year-old girl who wanted to share her story to try to promote more awareness and understanding around mental illness, particularly within the younger generations.

She had been in the system since she was 13, receiving weekly Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

At 15, in addition to this, she was also seeing a counsellor at her school.

At 18 she was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and admits this has been incredibly challenging for her.

Whilst most of us take every day relationships for granted, giving them little thought, for somebody with BPD, this can prove an enormous task.

She said: “In the past I have had extremely unstable relationships where the people in my life have either been idolised or demonised and many of my friendships have not lasted for a prolonged period of time.

“Some of my romantic relationships, because of this, have moved very quickly and as a result have been very destructive.”

The impact on relationships however is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to BPD.

Other common symptoms can include self-destructive and/or impulsive behaviour (such as self-harm, substance abuse or excessive spending) as well as identity disturbance.

She continued: “My sense of self is unstable, I often change my hair colour and style.

My personal style has previously completely changed in a matter of months.

“I have had many piercings which I have often removed in less than a year.”

The vast array of emotions has had a profound impact on the life of this individual and listening to her story fills me with sadness, yet admiration at the resilience she has shown throughout her life.

She will regularly have to deal with anger, sadness, a feeling of emptiness, as well as feeling out of touch with reality.

Friendships will come and go and the constant she craves seems so elusive.

Mental illness in adults can often be traced back to their childhood and adolescence.

We have to be more aware and parents, teachers, employers, siblings and peers all share that responsibility to protect the more vulnerable within society. It is vital we raise awareness and nullify the stigma.

Visit Jason Hanson’s website for more information about this.

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