Andrew is a Chartered Consultant Clinical & Forensic Psychologist and co-director of Changing Minds UK. He has over 20 years’ experience in delivering high quality applied psychology provision across a range of settings including; Elite Sport, Business, Mental Health, Social Care and the Criminal Justice System. Andrew has a particular interest and expertise in supporting people and organisations with the implications of relational attachment, threat and trauma on human development, resilience, well-being and performance.
Andrew has provided psychological support for a number of CEO’s & high performance leaders and elite athletes and has worked with a range of sporting and performance organisations in developing client performance, resilience and emotional well-being. In addition to his work in sport and business, Andrew has extensive experience in the NHS, working within and managing services across community, residential, prison, and hospital settings with children, young adults and adults presenting with high risk and complex mental health, behavioural, developmental, and family difficulties. He provides consultancy services both in the UK and internationally in relation to complex adolescent mental health, looked after children and youth justice services.
Andrew is an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and is a Practitioner Psychologist (Clinical & Forensic) registered with the Health Professions Council (HCPC). Andrew is currently a visiting lecturer for the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at Kings College London and Past Chair (2012-14) of the BPS DCP Faculty for Children, Young People and Families. He has presented research and clinical interests at both national and international conferences and published in a variety of books and peer-reviewed journals in relation to psychological consultation, clinical psychology and sport, and working psychologically with adolescents with high risk and complex presentations.
Is there a mental health crisis with young people or are we just more aware of what’s going on?
Andrew believes there has always been a mental health crisis in the sense that demand has always outstripped resource. He thinks it’s most helpful to consider ‘distress’ – and the level of distress in our young people.
When [distress] becomes overwhelming, that becomes a mental health problem.
What we need to do is help young people with their resilience against distress and tolerate challenging emotions over time. Andrew worries that we sometimes try to get rid of everything when some level of distress, for example when experiencing bereavement, are normal. We need to provide support but not try to eradicate the ‘problem’.
Mental health is everyone’s responsibility. We shouldn’t just send a child to a psychiatrist or a psychologist – it should rather be about how we care, help and support young people to develop the emotional skills they need for the future.
However, there are a few things Andrew thinks we haven’t handled well enough yet like access to social media and therefore ’24 hour anxiety’. We are all now bombarded by images which cause anxiety and there are no longer the same places of safety for those who are bullied. These images are trauma. We need to think about how we are helping young people to cope with this kind of trauma.
How do young people cope in a young offenders’ institution – is the system broken?
Andrew believes that there are times we need to lock young people up for their own and others’ safety and security. However we need to think about how we are helping these young people through the whole intervention to improve, to be rehabilitated and to recover. If we re-create some of the chaos they experience on the outside, or we aren’t thinking about the complexity of their situations, then we can just reinforce some of their difficulties.
While the system isn’t broken, there are huge improvements which can be made. There is great practice out there but Andrew thinks this is likely to be in pockets. The bigger an establishment gets, the less resource there is and the more difficult it is for adults to build trusting relationships with children to help guide them where they need to go.
There needs to be a re-focussing of this kind of provision, Paul and Andrew agree, on education. Listen to the whole episode for their challenging views and their ideas on how we should be progressing.