Is challenging behaviour a mental health issue? Of course it often is!
As a psychologist one of the issues that has concerns me most is that people too often make a bold distinction between young people who present with oppositional and challenging behaviour and young people who present with issues such as eating disorders, depression, anxiety and self-harm.
Challenging behaviour and anxiety and depression as examples can look very different. At first regard they demand different skill sets from adults. And if help is not forthcoming one group may end up as adults in psychiatric services whilst the other may end up in youth offending and criminal justice services.
But what are the connections? And what are the implications? What if these two growing social issues were much more closely connected and needed to be thought about as two sides of the same coin?
Challenging behaviour and mental health issues are profoundly interconnected and the reason lies in a much greater appreciation of child development and of what young people need from their relationships with adults, and why, in order to thrive.
Children with challenging behaviour often have difficulty being able to put their feelings and thoughts in words. They can be helped but without such help, we can be sure that they will struggle in relationships and this will become a mental health issue. Sometimes the most challenging behaviour is shown by children who have stopped being able to feel sensitive and vulnerable feelings. These are the children who seem to show little empathy or remorse and are the children who concern us most in terms of the dangers that they can present to others. They are children who have often been deeply wounded by their life experiences.
What is the solution? The solution to young people's challenging behaviour and mental health problems commonly lies in what adults need to be doing differently, and therefore I believe the solution also lies in more adults being willing to make time to stop and think and learn about what is happening at a deeper level.
The challenges can seem enormous and overwhelming. Where to start? There is not a quick fix solution. My observation however is that positive change can and does happen but when it does, it always starts with individuals who are willing to take responsibility for educating themselves.
If you are an adult who is willing to learn more about what is needed from you and other adults to help your child or a group of children in your setting - then why not talk with others and start a study group in your area? For more information about the I Matter Online Course click here. If you want to register with a group discount we run a course each term. Alternatively you can sign up for an Anytime Option.
Cathy Betoin Training Ltd is a limited company, registration number 07570100, that I set up to administer the work of the I Matter Project.
In November 2014 Cathy Betoin Training Ltd formally and legally became a social enterprise. As someone who has trained within the public sector and been deeply committed to the public sector values this was a transition that was dear to my heart.
A Social Enterprise is defined according to 3 criteria:
i) There is a social mission - the mission of this project is to provide mental health education for professionals, parents, and young people
ii) More than 50% of income is earned through trading products and services
iii) Profits are reinvested in the work of the business.
I hope that this important status will reassure those who are considering work with this project to feel reassured about the value base on which this work is progressing.
Still not very keen on the name itself so maybe I can change that one day.
Dr Cathy Betoin
Dr Cathy Betoin
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How do we improve the educational and mental health outcomes of our children?
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