Psychologists at the University of Reading have expressed concerns about the fact that the current one-size-fits-all approach that is being used to treat teenagers with anxiety problems could be putting their futures at risk.
At the moment, childhood therapies are simply being adapted for teenagers but experts are arguing that this approach does not work and are calling for tailored treatments to address such issues.
A study which was conducted at the university compared the symptoms of 100 children aged six to 12 years with those of 100 teenagers aged 13 to 18 who had been referred for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in Berkshire.
Analysing the results of the study, lead researcher, Polly Waite commented:
“We found that teenagers were often receiving treatment designed for younger children which is then simply being adapted or made cooler. For example, some of the pictures used in the online therapy were simply changed from teddy bears to images of grungy teenagers.”
The outcome of this means that teenagers are receiving treatments that don’t specifically address symptoms that occur during adolescence. For example, research has suggested that teenagers with anxiety disorders are more likely to have serious symptoms and to have anxiety surrounding social situations. Adolescents are also more likely than children to suffer from depression or low moods.
Psychologists hope that by developing a more tailored approach to only teenagers, that it could prevent mental health problems from developing as well as lead to fewer incidences of suicide and drug and alcohol problems.
Lucie Russell from the charity, YoungMinds commented:
“It is worrying but not surprising that sometimes adolescents are not able to receive specific treatment for their needs. This needs to change if we want to stop the slide of many young people from children’s to adult mental health services because their problems weren’t addressed appropriately when they first started to suffer.”
Anxiety problems affect a staggering 300,000 children and adolescents in the UK. To learn more about depression and anxiety, check out our knowledge centre. If you are worried about the condition or would like more information about symptoms or the treatments available, please contact us today.