Child Protection Guidance 2021

Part 4: Specific support needs and concerns 141 National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021 Version 1.0 September 2021 4.62 Children who experience adversity and trauma are, in adulthood, more likely to become parents at a young age, experience poor mental health, use substances, have contact with the criminal justice system, and experience poor physical health. For some young people, mental health problems will severely limit their capacity to participate actively in everyday life, and will continue to affect them into adulthood. Some may go on to develop severe difficulties, including personality disorders, and display behaviour that challenges families and services (Mental Welfare Commission 2019). 4.63 Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children may be particularly vulnerable to mental health problems. They may have experienced traumatic events before arrival. Some will have been trafficked, and some will have on-going fears relating to this, in addition to insecurities about the future. Many will have no awareness of the support available to them, making it difficult for them to access services. Therefore any child protection planning should fit within a co‑ordinated, relational and holistic approach, with access to independent advocacy as appropriate. 4.64 Third Sector and community support is critical. Recommendations made by the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Taskforce (Scottish Government 2019) encapsulate a whole-system approach to addressing mental ill health. Resources and References - Mental health Suicide and self-harm affecting children 4.65 Suicide is an act of deliberate self-harm which results in death. Self-harm refers to self- poisoning or self-injury, irrespective of the apparent purpose of the act. Self-harm is generally a way of coping with overwhelming emotional distress. Many people self-harm where there is no suicidal intent. However, those who self-harm can be at a higher risk of suicide. Self-harm may combine with other expressions of distress and disturbance. If there are concerns that abuse or neglect are associated with self-harm, child protection processes apply. 4.66 Suicidal thoughts in children may be triggered by an event. However they are usually caused by an accumulation and interaction of vulnerabilities and experiences. This may include response to technology assisted information and communication. Suicidal thoughts and self-harming behaviour are more common among children who have been impacted by neglect, abuse, disrupted attachment, rejection, alienation, traumatic separation and loss. Children will also need support when they are impacted by the mental ill health, self-harm or suicide of others. 4.67 Parents, carers and peers may be the first to become aware of risk or distress. Frontline workers in health, education, social care, the police, the voluntary sector and the prison service need to be alert to circumstances where individuals may be at heightened risk, and should maintain awareness of what to do to support young adults. Every Life Matters is the Scottish Government Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2018.