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Romford mental health charity discusses the issues facing today’s youth

11:07 17 February 2014

Nicole Wilkes, funding coordinator vollunteer, in a play therapy room at You and Me Counselling.

Nicole Wilkes, funding coordinator vollunteer, in a play therapy room at You and Me Counselling.

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As new statistics reveal thousands of children under 10 are being treated for depression, the Recorder spoke to staff at mental health charity You and Me Counselling, based in Romford High Street.

The charity works with children, young people and their families throughout the borough offering one-to-one and group counselling through a variety of methods.

Established in 2011, the charity has moved from having no office to boasting a purpose built centre complete with a play area and three counselling rooms, all in the space of three years.

Nicole Wilkes, voluntary funding coordinator, believes the increase in children dealing with mental health issues is a problem that needs more attention.

“We get so many phone calls from concerned parents who say there is no help for their child’s behavioural issues. Often they don’t get any help until they have actually done a criminal act.

“Mostly it is teenagers, but we deal with children under 10 too.”

Through counselling, psychotherapy, mentoring, information and advice, the charity and its team of qualified counsellors, therapists and volunteers aim to pre-empt the problems by getting to the root of them.

“We want to get in there before that (a criminal act) happens because there’s always something behind it. Where is it coming from, what’s really bothering them?”

The charity’s core belief is to provide these services to all those who need help. NHS cutbacks and long waiting lists leave many children waiting for six months or more for help for a variety of issues such as bullying, self-harming, abuse, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and bereavement.

“We believe that working with people as soon as they need help and at the early stages of their issues leads to a quicker recovery,” explained Nicole.

“It decreases the likelihood of the problem continuing later in life to cause greater emotional and psychological harm.”

As well as the hour-long counselling sessions, the centre has a drop-in session every Tuesday, which often sees young people attend who do not know what to expect, according to Nicole.

She added: “The drop-in sessions are good. The young people come in and they speak to our counsellors for 10 or 20 minutes and it helps - often they come back.”

This week shocking statistics, published by a national newspaper, show that thousands of children under 10 have been treated for depression within just two of the country’s 60 hospital trusts.

And children’s mental health charity YoungMinds estimates 96,000 children aged between five and 10 suffer from an anxiety disorder, while 8,700 are seriously depressed.

And volunteer at You and Me Counselling, Jade Maragaki, believes it is not a new problem.

“I am not surprised by these statistics,” she said. “I think there has always been issues.”

“There is a lack of awareness. I work in schools and when a teacher has a class of 20 plus children, do they get the time to sit with each child? I don’t think so.

“It’s also about the parents. That is why we are hosting a conference in March for parents to learn how to build a relationship with their child.”

Jade believes the access children have to social media is a major factor in the current issues facing youngsters.

“When I was young people spoke one-to-one. Now comments are seen by thousands on the internet. It’s a big problem, we already know that some children have committed suicide due to internet bullying.”

Jade says seeing the effects of her work can make it all worthwhile.

She added: “The rewards are seeing a positive effect in a child after the sessions.”

You and Me Counselling relies on funding. If you are a local business interested in contributing, call the team on 01708 733573.

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