Mental health is a topic that is always in the news these days. We are advised to eat healthily, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and these are the basics for looking after your well-being. It is only in more recent times, that mental health has been finally given the attention it deserves. Even the Royal family are getting involved to remove the stigma of mental health issues and are encouraging people to be more open with their feelings.
Sadly, mental health issues are very common in young children too. A recent TV article claimed that children of primary school age were suffering with mental health issues and figures were on the rise. Unfortunately, there is no simple solution to this but we can all do our bit to help. Many charities have invested in helplines for young people and it is innovative resources like this that can make all the difference. Young Minds for example, are a charity who promote good mental health for young people, by making sure they get the help they need. They provide a texting facility - TEXT 85258, for help, as well as a free helpline for parents too. Open Monday-Friday 9.30 – 4pm – Tel 0808 8025544. I have also just heard the exciting new that Heads Together, the charity empowered by the Royal Family, has just launched a new Text Helpline called "Shout".
School is an important place and can be used as a haven for the everyday problems in life. School provides structure to the day, and promotes creativity. Some schools have introduced mindfulness to the school day to encourage relaxation. There is an ongoing petition for every school to have Mental Health Education mandatory teaching curriculum in all schools in the UK. Signatures have reached nearly 200,000. The petition can be found at Change.org. There is also an additional petition to ensure that every child will have access to a qualified counsellor in schools, although more signatures are required before the government will debate the issue in Parliament. Children need to have a place where they can express themselves in complete confidence. The charity Place2Be are a prime example of how this facility is so successful. Place2Be is the leading National Children’s mental health charity. They provide counselling to improve the emotional well-being of pupil’s in both primary and secondary schools. Children are having to deal with many situations in their life that they do not know how to cope with, involving a wide range of social issues, including bereavement, anxiety, parent with a terminal illness, problems at home, bullying and low self-esteem.
Social Media has been said to have a negative impact on a young person’s mental health. It is all about striking the right balance. Using social media can be very addictive and because there are no restrictions on usage, it is understandable how this could be seen as a risk to the user’s well-being. Social Media however, can also provide invaluable human contact that they would not normally have. With the right parental guidance, children can find social media a good means of support.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a therapy designed to help a people change their way of thinking or reacting to certain situations and can be used to help children too. The therapy focuses on the present moment, and likes to challenge negative thinking through the practise of introducing new and positive behaviours as an alternative. Their philosophy is that what we think affects how we act and feel, that what we do affects how we think and feel, and what we feel affects what we think and do. The therapy provides the child with coping strategies and techniques to improve their frame of mind and to have a more positive outlook on life. CBT is thought to be excellent in treating disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Children and young people must be encouraged to speak out when something is worrying them. There are resources on the markets such as storybooks helping children to deal with their emotions. “What’s wrong Arty?” for example, is delightful tale. A therapeutic adventure for young children to encourage them to talk about things that worry them. Ideal for parents, teachers, therapists, educational psychologists, and indeed anyone who work with young children.
It is heart warming to see that a great effort is being made to support our young people with their emotional well-being. Innovative ideas such as telephone helplines and texting facilities, petitions and books can only be worthwhile in supporting this very important issue and provide hope for the future.