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(The Causes of Mental Health Problems, Read and Sanders 2010:15)
Through emotionally engaging presentations, supported by film footage, experts will discuss the help and hindrance of child and adolescent diagnoses. While some diagnoses are correct and helptul, the worry is that when children or teenagers are given a diagnosis, people stop thinking. With so much focus on presenting behaviour, often natural developmental stages are not taken into consideration. For example, many children diagnosed with ADHD are simply age 5 in a class mainly of 6 year olds so have less developed frontal lobe functions (Elder 2010). Other children are suffering from trauma, not ADHD as symptomatology can be very similar. Moreover, 75% of children evaluated for conditions such as ADHD and Oppositional-Defiance Disorder receive medication on the very first visit to the doctor. The unfortunate underlying message is: ‘You need a pill to manage your feelings’. As a result, many children wind up on medication when underlying unmourned grief or relational stress is the main contributing factor. These children need help from emotionally available adults, not from pills. Other children and teenagers may simply have different ways of being in the world, which cannot be explained by a diagnosis or neurodiversity. Moreover, most diagnoses for children and teenagers preceded the amazing advancements in brain science we have today and so are not neuroscientifically evidence-based.
Dr Margot Sunderland
Director of Education and Training at The Centre for Child Mental Health, London. Honorary Visiting Fellow at London Metropolitan University, Associate member of The Royal College of Medicine and Child Psychotherapist with over 30 years’ experience of working with children and teenagers. Author of over 20 books in the field of child mental health. What Every Parent Needs to Know (Dorling Kindersley) won First Prize in the British Medical Association Medical Book awards 2007 (Popular Medicine section). Originator of ‘Helping Where it Hurts’, a therapy programme for troubled children in North London schools.
For more details about Dr Margot Sunderland: www.margotsunderland.org
Professor Sami Timimi
Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Director of Medical Education in the National Health Service in Lincolnshire, Training Programme Director for East Midlands Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and a Visiting Professor of Child Psychiatry and Mental Health Improvement at the University of Lincoln, UK. He writes from a critical psychiatry perspective on topics relating to mental health and childhood and has published over a hundred and twenty articles and tens of chapters on many subjects including childhood, psychotherapy, behavioural problems, and cross-cultural psychiatry. He has authored 4 books including Naughty Boys: Anti-Social Behaviour, ADHD and the Role of Culture, co-edited 4 books including, with Carl Cohen, Liberatory Psychiatry: Philosophy, Politics and Mental Health, and co-authored 2 others including, with Neil Gardiner and Brian McCabe, The Myth of Autism: Medicalising Men’s and Boys’ Social and Emotional Competence.
CCMH, 2-18 Britannia Row, London N1 8PA, UK