NHS Fife this week held a conference for young people with ADHD.
Five inspiring ‘Young ADHD Ambassadors’ led an innovative conference “Your ADHD: Your Voice” for 30 other Fife youngsters with ADHD on Saturday. The conference was supported by the NHS Fife ADHD team and part of the Scottish Government Year of the Young Person initiative.
The children all had great fun taking part in a series of workshops run by the Young ADHD Ambassadors. In one they used art materials to show what their ADHD looks like and feels like to them. They also enjoyed an improv drama workshop around teaching other people about ADHD, supported by staff from Dundee Rep Theatre. A third session focussed on the children exploring their own ‘ADHD superpowers’. The day was a great success, enjoyed by all, and provided an excellent opportunity for our young people’s voices to actively shape future NHS Fife ADHD services.
How great it would be if this would encourage other Health and Social Care Partnerships to do likewise…
Yesterday, leaders from the Riding from the Disabled Association across West and Central Scotland came together in Stirling for training on ADHD, neurodiversity and sensory issues led by Geraldine Mynors, Coalition Chair.
Riding has enormous benefits for people with ADHD and the RDA volunteers have great skills in helping people with all sorts of difficulties to get the most from it.
Contact your local RDA branch if you know someone with ADHD who would like to try it. http://www.rda.org.uk/
Watch a short film about how riding has helped one young man with ADHD who was excluded from school. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/get-inspired/35591788
At last week’s Royal College of Psychiatrists CAMHS Faculty Conference held in Glasgow, Geraldine Mynors, Chair of the Scottish ADHD Coalition, chaired a ‘Harkness table’ debate. The participants were four young people with experience of Scotland’s mental health services:
- Charlie MacKenzie-Nash, Volunteer Faculty Service User representative for the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
- Ross Pollard, a social researcher currently working with Adopt an Intern to help get people with disbilites into work
- Alex Lightbody, a student nurse
- Kareen Stewart, a care-experienced Ambassador on the Communities that Care project in Renfrewshire, for Who Cares Scotland.
The debaters chose and took on the challenging question:
‘How can we ensure that CAMHS services are available to those in the greatest need, and not flooded by the tidal wave of mental health difficulties experienced by young people today?’
The wide ranging debate was enthusiastically received by the audience of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals from across the UK. Some of the points where there was consensus were:
- The statistics on the increase in young people reporting mental ill-health and referrals to CAMHS speak for themselves – but it is unclear how much this is due to a welcome reduction in stigma about speaking out about it.
- More work is needed to understand the role that social media and smartphone addiction have in exacerbating mental health problems – and how much these can also help. Austerity is also likely to be linked to mental distress amongst young people.
- CAMHS services are under-resourced and clearly need more funding to prevent a much bigger bill in the adult mental health system and society at large.
- However, besides more resources, CAMHS services need to look at how they organise themselves and target their services. The criteria for accepting or rejecting referrals at the moment often seem arbitrary and need to be more rational – with more information about children referred gathered up front. Too many children have to repeat their story over and over again, and come up against staff who are ‘patronising’ and – in particular – seem to find it hard to relate to adolescents. Separate services for teens and young adults could help – possibly offering more group consultations and other age-appropriate interventions.
- Diagnoses and ‘labels’ can sometimes be profoundly unhelpful to young people and only add to their stress and anxiety. Words like ‘borderline personality disorder’ can carry real stigma. On the other hand, the young people with ADHD in the conference felt that a much earlier diagnosis would have helped them avoid other mental health problems down the line.
- Mental health prevention needs a much greater emphasis – along with first line services which GPs can refer to (like school counsellors) before problems get out of hand. School is the place where most young people can be reached, but shouldn’t be the only setting for prevention work – youth workers and other youth activities play a huge role too.
The Scottish ADHD Coalition was proud to have been involved in this event, and impressed with the huge insight and courage shown by the young people involved in order to highlight the ways in which CAMHS services need to rise to today’s challenges.
The debating team worked with Debating Mental Health to prepare for the debate. The Conference was chaired by Professor Helen Minnis of the University of Glasgow.
Claire Haughey MSP, Minister for Mental Health, Scottish Government
This Thursday we are holding a roundtable meeting in the Scottish Parliament (1 – 2.30pm) with new Minister for Mental Health, Claire Haughey, hosted by Daniel Johnson MSP.
We will be asking for improvements to health services for both children and adults with ADHD in Scotland.
Looking forward to welcoming Saskia Eng as one of our speakers – ADHD has not held her back!
The event is invitation only, but there are a handful of spaces left. If anyone would like to come and be in the audience, please send us a message TODAY (4th Sept) and tell us why you would like to be there.
The Scottish ADHD Coalition is working with the Central Scotland Adult ADHD Groups to re-run ADD Impact, a six week course for adults with ADHD which was originally developed in Edinburgh by the Addressing the Balance charity.
With a grant from Shire Pharma, the course is being revised and updated and will be delivered over the next year in at least four locations.
The first of these will be Glasgow, and booking is now open at
Any adult with a confirmed diagnosis of ADHD, or who has been referred to a psychiatrist for assessment, is welcome to register to attend.
Watch this space for details of further venues and dates for subsequent courses.
New data obtained by the BBC shows a concerning rise in antidepressant prescribing for children in Scotland. In this comment we highlight that undiagnosed ADHD and ASD can be one thing which gives rise to mental health problems in young people.
As well as treatment for anxiety and depression, much could be achieved if young people were able to engage more with the Outdoors, the arts, exercise and purpose – and if parents were better supported. All things we plan to work on in the future.
BBC Reporting Scotland news 24th July 2017
The Press and Journal yesterday reported on the policy of NHS Grampian towards adult ADHD
Download the full article here.
Press and Journal article 5 6 18
UPDATE – 6th June 2018
Minister to order NHS Grampian to end ADHD treatment ban