A CHILD psychotherapist says more funding is urgently needed for children and young people’s mental health services.

Dr Sharie Coombes provides psychotherapy for young people at Foundations Therapy practice in Southwick and also works in schools.

The 55-year-old has written activity books for children and has just launched a new book for teenagers.

She said: “I’ve been on the inside of a mental health hospital in London which was well-funded and efficient and their waiting list was reviewed weekly.

“But it always has to be a crisis – you are only seen if you’re in crisis and even then you’re not always seen.

“It is a big resource issue.

“The system ends up pushing people further and further down the list if they’re only presenting mild symptoms, but of course these symptoms then become acute.”

Dr Coombes’ first book for teenagers, Choose You! is a self-help guide which helps young people understand the neuroscience of the teenage brain, which she says can be beneficial to their mental health.

She said: “I see a lot of teens in therapy but not everyone has parents who can afford it.

“Some young people never hear that when an inner voice tells them they’re rubbish, it’s because of their biological programming.

“Often I can spend less than two hours with a young person and it’s enough for them to understand their feelings in relation to neurobiology, and they feel so much relief.

“This is where I hope my book can come in – the idea is a book can be therapy, as so many young people cannot access a therapist.”

Self-image in an age of social media is just one of the problems young people face, and Dr Coombes said she sees insecurities in both sexes.

She said: “Looking a certain way is something we have attributed to girls more than boys but now it is absolutely affecting both.

“Even though they know these images of celebrities are digitally altered they still judge themselves by these standards.

“It is just part of a bundle of pressures.”

Dr Coombes believes it can take just three experiences for someone to form a negative view about themselves.

She said: “My observation is we all make decisions about ourselves and it only takes three points of reference for us to form a belief.

“Someone might make a comment about your nose and you can end up carrying that.

“What I want to show is that your whole life does not have to be determined by how you feel one day in Year 9, and if you start asking the right questions you can create a more flexible mind which is healthier.”

Choose You! is available from all good bookshops and on Amazon for £6.50.