Support for Youths

How youths can be affected by trauma

Research from King’s College London suggests one in 13 young people in the UK have had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) before reaching age 18. The first UK-based study of its kind, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, found 31% of young people had a traumatic experience during childhood, and those who were exposed to trauma were twice as likely as their peers to have a range of mental health disorders.

 Psychology Today reports that 25% of 13 to 18-year-olds suffer from mild to moderate anxiety, and girls are more likely to be diagnosed than boys. The average age of onset is 11 with anxieties cited as among the earliest of developing pathologies. 

According to the World Health Organization, mental health conditions account for 16% of the global burden of disease and injury in people aged 10-19 years.

How to help reduce your child's anxiety

While anxiety is a normal response to certain events and situations, it is not normal to feel anxious all the time. Feeling worried about sitting an exam, changing school or parents separating is to be expected. Throw in the highs and lows of hormones, body changes and peer pressure and it’s no wonder so many youngsters struggle.  But when things get out of control and symptoms start to interfere with everyday living, it might be time to do something about the situation.  

The first thing to do would be to have a relaxed chat and find out what the situation is. If you can get your child to open up, you might be able to find solutions together. Talking is really important as keeping things to oneself always makes them worse. Maybe suggest an evening out in a relaxed setting or a quiet meal together. Make sure you listen carefully to every word because even if what they are saying doesn’t make sense to you, it is very real for them, even if the thing they feel anxious about is unlikely to happen.

It may help to explain that they are not alone and there are others in the same situation, a good idea would be for you to give examples of difficult times you faced or frightening challenges you had to deal with when you were younger and how you coped. 

Encourage your child to try out some of these tips, or even have a go at them together:

  • Try some grounding techniques: Different techniques work for different people, so trial and error is the best way to find what works for your child.
  • Get moving: Exercise releases endorphins which are hormones that make us naturally feel good. It also increases our body temperature which can have a calming effect as well as burning off excess energy that can sometimes lead to anxiety. Maybe you could find a pastime that you could do together? Kicking a ball around the garden or turning up the music and having a dance around the living room is a great start. 
  • Encourage a healthy diet. This can sometimes be a tricky subject but too much, sugar, fat or fast food can trigger anxiety and provoke low self-esteem. Suggest cooking up some healthy meals together.
  • Make sure your child is getting enough sleep: We all know how tough life can feel if we haven’t had enough sleep so try and look at creating a new bedtime routine to make dropping off that much easier. You can use My Bedtime Countdown to encourage some new habits. 
  • Model Behaviour: Children learn from their peers so it is really important to set a good example. If your child sees you confront your worries and fears by finding solutions and putting in place coping techniques, they are more likely to copy.