For children and young people who have experienced the trauma of sexual abuse, it is common to struggle with anxiety, flashbacks and panic attacks, as well as difficulty sleeping or poor quality of sleep, for example due to recurring nightmares.
Sleep deprivation can have a serious impact on emotional, physical and mental health and can be one of the things that leaves families feeling at crisis point. When an individual has several days of sleep deprivation they can experience mood swings and depression, and struggle to concentrate throughout the day. Sometimes sleep deprivation leads to high levels of anxiety, but anxiety can also lead to sleep deprivation. The conditions fuel each other, which worsens an individual’s mental health, coping and ability to recover.
At Imara, our Sleep and Anxiety project is funded by BBC Children in Need and was set up with the aim of supporting children that are recovering from trauma to get a better night’s sleep, establish routines that will have a positive impact on the rest of their lives, as well as feeling better able to cope with ongoing stresses in their lives.
When a child or young person is referred to Imara, our practitioners can refer them to Stella, our specialist Sleep & Anxiety Practitioner. Stella will offer an assessment and bespoke programme of support for each child or young person in conjunction with their carer. Support includes breathing techniques, guided tapes to help them sleep, visualisation exercises to reduce fear and anxiety around sleep, and other resources to help concentrate better and feel generally more positive.
To access support yourself, or make a referral to Imara for a child or young person affected by sexual abuse, contact the East Midlands Children and Young People Sexual Assault Service. Visit EMCYPSAS website
Listen to Stella’s interview on Sleep and Anxiety with BBC Radio Nottingham, in celebration of BBC Children in Need
September 27th, 2021