In clinical psychology or mental health realms, when a young person deliberately causes harm to him or herself as a way of managing or communicating distress to others, we refer to this as self harm. Self harm in times of distress most commonly includes cutting, burning, re-opening old wounds or head banging and the results can be superficial or very extreme and requiring hospitalisation. Self harm can also co-occur with other distressing conditions such as depression, anxiety, substance use and eating disorders. Whilst not all young people who self harm are suicidal, there is definitely an overlap and when someone is self harming, especially when they are causing extreme damage to themselves, there is an increased chance of accidental death. So, it is incredibly important that any sort of self harm by a young person is given the appropriate response.
Whilst any self harm is concerning, the latest figures on mental health and young people in Australia tell us that rates of self harm are dramatically increasing.
It’s very, very hard to learn new things when your brain won’t let you focus and won’t let your body be still. ADHD is a syndrome that is brain-based and highly genetic. It’s also a syndrome that gets bandied around lots – so much so that I think many teachers, and perhaps judges and legal representatives, roll their eyes when they hear about it.
Being able to attend well is yet another feature of our remarkable brains. Paying attention is something we take for granted when it works well. Without having a brain that can attend well, it gets harder to get started on a job, it can be difficult to keep focused, it can be hard to sustain effort, and very tricky to hold things in your memory long enough to work on them. Attention can also have implications for our ability to manage our emotions and frustrations and to regulate or give ourselves feedback. All of these brain functions depend on parts of the brain being structured and connected properly, both in physical structure plus in the ways that the brain’s chemicals move between and around these parts of the brain.
Some kids are slow to warm up in company. Some are content without too much interaction with others. Other kids live in fear of having to speak or interact with others. It’s important that we understand the differences and preferences of children before we go rushing in to make them “come out of themselves” and be the “life of the party”.
From very early in a child’s life, we can get a sense of that child being a “people person” or not. Some bubs love the smiles, noises and interactions from other happy faces. Others are less sociable, perhaps even turning away from others and burying their face in Mum or Dad’s shoulder. Some infants will need lots of social stimulation and love time spent with others. Still others will be somewhere in between and once they have warmed up and feel secure they will turn out of their parent’s armpit and smile at others.
FAT FILE Syndrome… a sad and potentiality dangerous symptom of working with complex clients. A file full of assessments and reports that lead nowhere; expensive and wordy documents that are worth nothing to the client or the client’s team when it comes to creating the much-needed outcomes.
I’m determined to make assessments meaningful which is a direct result of years of working with young people in complex situations and the reams of paper generated about them. Here are 5 characteristics of useful psychological and behavioural assessments and reports that I believe Health, Forensic and Human service personnel should consider, indeed demand…