There's more to mental health

2nd August 2013 at 01:00

While Karen Cromarty ("Helping children with mental health issues", Professional, 26 July) has many worthwhile things to say about children's mental health, she and TES do a disservice to children (and adults) with lifelong neurological conditions such as autistic spectrum disorders (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Tourette's syndrome. The inclusion in her article of a quote from the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which inappropriately includes these conditions in a list described as "mental health issues", perpetuates a common misconception. Given that your publication is aimed at teachers who are not experts in this field and are, therefore, vulnerable to believing this sort of rubbish, this is unhelpful to the thousands of UK children (and adults) who have such conditions.

The importance of the distinction is not to separate these conditions from the repugnant stigma associated with actual mental health issues such as depression and anxiety but to understand that they are fundamentally different in nature and require a different approach. The article, rightly, recommends "spotting signs of emerging mental health problems" and the overall message is one of facilitating appropriate treatment so that children can recover from conditions such as depression and anxiety. Good advice - for mental health issues. Totally inappropriate for lifelong neurological conditions. Tourette's, ASD and ADHD do not "emerge", they are present throughout people's lifespan. Children do not "recover" from neurological conditions, they become adults with Tourette's, ASD or ADHD. Those who are fortunate enough to be diagnosed, educated about their disability and provided with effective and useful treatment and support will become functional, happy and contributing adults with a neurological disability.

Yo Dunn PhD, Lancaster.

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