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What's the Harm? campaign

Alcohol before 18 - What's the harm?

 

Parents urged to talk to children about alcohol and mental health

During Mental Health Awareness Week, Balance is encouraging parents to talk to their children about the risks of alcohol and how it can affect their mental health.

Many parents know drinking increases the risks of accidents, injuries, smoking and drug taking, but are less aware of the damage alcohol can do to children’s developing brains, liver, bones and hormones, affecting their mood, their mental health and risking them falling behind at school.

If teenagers are moody and take risks it is often put down to their hormones. However, the truth is that much of their behaviour is because their brains continue to develop and change until they are into their mid-20s. If children drink alcohol before they reach adulthood this can change or delay the development of the logical, thoughtful part of their brains.

This is why the Chief Medical Officer (CMO)’s guidance recommends that an alcohol free childhood up to 18 is the healthiest and best option, and that if children do drink this should not be before age 15.

Drinking can leave children feeling tired, sluggish and not able to perform at their best at school. It is also linked to stress, depression and self-harming behaviour. According to research by the Mental Health Foundation, 50% of mental health problems are established before the age of 14, so it is important that young people are aware of the negative effects that alcohol can have on their mental health.

Read more here.