Healthy Minds, Healthy Learning

Today is #HelloYellow Day and children have worn yellow accessories to mark the occasion, set up by the Charity Young Minds. The organisation provides young people with tools to look after their mental health. They aim to empower parents and adults who work with young people, to be the best support they can be to the young people in their lives. They also give young people the space and confidence to get their voices heard and change the world we live in. Ultimately, they aim to create a world where no young person feels alone with their mental health.

Mental health problems affect around one in six children. They include depression, anxiety and conduct disorder (a type of behavioural problem) and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives. Alarmingly, however, research suggests that 75% of children and young people who experience a mental health problem are not getting the help they need.

Children’s emotional wellbeing is just as important as their physical health. Good mental health helps them develop the resilience to cope with whatever comes their way in life and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults. Things that can help keep children and young people mentally well include:

  • being in good physical health, eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise
  • having time and freedom to play, indoors and outdoors
  • being part of a family with good relationships
  • taking part in local activities.

At Yateley Manor we believe we have a responsibility to support the mental welfare of every child, in a proactive and reactive capacity. Other factors are also important, including feeling loved, trusted, understood and safe. Children who are optimistic, resilient, have some control over their lives and feel like they belong are more likely to have good mental wellbeing.

 

Challenging events and trauma can trigger mental health problems for children and young people who are already vulnerable. Changes also often act as triggers, such as moving home, changing school or the birth of a new sibling, for example. Some children who start school feel excited about making new friends and doing new activities, but there may also be some who feel quite anxious. Teenagers often experience emotional turmoil as their minds and bodies develop. An important part of growing up is working out and accepting who you are.

Recognising the signs that a child may be struggling with their mental health can be really difficult. The pandemic has changed lots of things about family life.

The following is a list mental health problems which commonly occur in children:

  • Depression affects more children today than in the last few decades. Teenagers are more likely to experience depression than young children.
  • Self-harm is a very common problem among young people. Some people who experience intense emotional pain may try to deal with it by hurting themselves.
  • Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) can cause young people to become extremely worried. Very young children or children starting or moving school may have separation anxiety.
  • Eating disorders usually start in the teenage years and are more common in girls than boys. The number of young people who develop an eating disorder is small, but eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa can have serious consequences for their physical health and development.

How can we help as parents?

One of the most important ways parents can help is by listening to their children and taking their feelings seriously. The child may want a hug, they may want you to help them change something or they may want practical help.

Children’s negative feelings usually pass. However, it is a good idea to get help if a child is distressed for a long time, if their feelings are stopping them from getting on with their lives, if their distress is disrupting family life or if they are repeatedly behaving in ways you would not expect at their age.

Listening

A study entitled “Listening to Children” conducted by Clare Armstrong, Malcolm Hill and Jenny Secker from the Centre for the Child and Society, University of Glasgow, found that, “Factors which caused positive mental health were: family; friends; personal achievement; feeling good about yourself; having people to talk to; pets; presents and having fun.” The study continued that, “Boredom was a major factor in contributing to some of the negative feelings.” Therefore more activities were seen as an important way of attaining positive mental health.

We take the mental health of children at Yateley Manor very seriously, for a healthy mind leads to healthy learning. Thank you for supporting us today.