ACC are holding two one day conferences on working with Children and Young People for counselling professionals and those involved in the pastoral care of children and adolescents.
Mental health problems affect 1 in 10 children, yet 70% of children do not receive the help they need when they need it [Mental Health Foundation]. A recent Guardian headline declared that in relation to child mental health ‘Provision in the UK was worse than in Eastern Europe’ [The Guardian, 29/04/2019].
Children and young people today as in the past face many pressures in their lives relating to school, friends, violence, poverty, family breakdown, but there appears to be an increased intensity and added complexities and challenges such as the use of social media.
Some of the statistics are shocking: there has been a rise of 67% in the number of teenage deaths by suicide since 2010 alone. [Independent, September 2018.] and findings of the Children’s Society’s Good Childhood Report over the last five years bring more sobering news:
2017: one million teenagers have seven or more serious problems in their lives.
2018: pressure to fit in with society’s expectations are making children unhappy and rates of self-harm are ‘alarming’
2019: an estimated quarter of a million ten to fifteen-year olds are unhappy with their lives.
We also know that some groups of children are more vulnerable than other: the poor and those marginalised in society, whether it because of race, ethnicity or their sexuality or gender identity.
One of the places where families and children can expect to receive support is in our churches. However, we know that many working pastorally with children and young people do not always feel sufficiently equipped to support children’s mental and spiritual well-being. How can we help children and young people navigate a world, which seems to increasingly anxious? How can we instil in them a sense of their intrinsic worth and value, of their resourcefulness and creativity, of their ability to bring about a new future.
Another source of support is in the untapped resources of professional qualified counsellors and psychotherapists who are there ready and capable of meeting the gap in an overstretched NHS. The problem is in financing these private services and imaginative ways of resourcing counselling support should be the practical theological challenge for the Church of the coming decade. The Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC), through our members and affiliated organisations provide hundreds of thousands of hours of low-cost counselling to individuals in need each year. However, training to work with children and young people is costly and in addition to the investment made in qualifying as an adult therapist.
For this reason ACC are holding two one day conferences on working with Children and Young People for counselling professionals and those involved in the pastoral care of children and adolescents. We have brought together perspectives from the world of psychiatry, psychology, counselling and Christian pastoral care to explore ways in which we can better serve this hurting generation. The Conference in London is on the 16th November and in Leeds on the 30th November. For details of speakers and venues please visit our website: www.acc-uk.org