'Much of what is written and spoken about mental health problems implies they are illnesses. This can lead us all to believe that we no longer have to think about mental health problems, because illness is best left to doctors. They, and psychiatrists, are the illness experts.'
Through emotionally engaging presentations, supported by film footage, experts will discuss the debate around 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 'There's a big difference between a 5-year-old and a 6-year-old, and teachers and medical practitioners need to take that into account when evaluating whether children have ADHD.' (Elder 2010). Other children and teenagers are suffering from trauma, not ADHD as symptomatology can be very similar. 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.
On this day, experts in the field will consider arguably correct diagnoses, misdiagnoses, over-diagnosis and under-diagnosis of all the main childhood and teenage ‘disorders’ ADHD, oppositional defiance disorder, developmental trauma, depressive disorders and other key psychiatric categories.
Benefits from attending this conference
Understand the role of brain as well as mind in common childhood diagnoses
Learn the most up-to-date research (both brain science and psychology) relevant to common psychiatric disorders such as ADHD, Autistic spectrum, anxiety and depressive disorders, conduct and oppositional defiance disorders In making or questioning a diagnosis,
Learn how to consider underlying causes as well as presenting behaviours
Understand the role of relational stress and relational poverty in children/teenagers who present as mentally unwell
Learn how to raise the awareness of professionals and parents to early signs of alarm and developmental delays before seeking out a diagnosis
Be empowered to make effective assessments, treatment plans and interventions for children who show concerning behaviour and ways of being in the world
Learn how to argue your case with ‘fixed position’ professionals
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.
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, Libratory 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.