World Mental Health Day 2017- mental health in young children
10th October 2017
Today is World Mental Health Day. This is an initiative set up by the World Federation for Mental Health and is observed on the 10th October every year. It has the overall objective of raising awareness of world mental health issues and supporting those suffering from them. What a great day to show your support for better mental health and wellbeing! Mental health problems can affect anyone, any day of the year and at any time, however it has recently been discovered that these problems can initially be observed in children as young as four. Therefore, we need to do more to help overcome mental health in young children.
A recent article in the news reported that mental health problems often develop at an early age, which is why there is such an emphasis on addressing mental health in young children. This research outlined that whilst half of all mental health problems are established by the age of 14, shockingly, children as young as four years old are suffering from panic attacks, anxiety, eating disorders and depression.
The people who are most likely to be able to spot and address these problems for mental health in young children are their teachers. Teachers spend the majority of each day with their pupils. According to an article by The Independent, nine in ten teachers said they had experienced a pupil suffering from anxiety and panic attacks, while 79% were aware of a pupil suffering from depression, and 64% knew of a child who was self-harming. However, in spite of these alarming figures, over a third of teachers have not had any training on how to deal with mental health in young children when they are confronted with it. This is becoming a very worrying problem and, with mental health increasing in the UK, it is vital for teachers to experience effective training to enable them to help and support their pupils in their mental health and wellbeing. With today being World Mental Health Awareness Day, we have put together 4 ways in which teachers can help their students suffering with mental health problems.
1) Identify the problem
Here at Impero, we want to do everything we possibly can to help teachers effectively identify and recognise the problems of mental health in young children early, so they are able to get the support and care they need as soon as possible. This is why we have developed our keyword libraries and use real-time monitoring, incident captures and a log of all student activity. These features flag up potentially harmful, at-risk or inappropriate behaviour, empowering teachers to protect and support their students successfully and improve mental health and wellbeing.
2) Receive education about mental health in young children
Teachers must be knowledgeable on the subject of mental health in young children themselves and know the signs and symptoms to look out for in their pupils. Changes in their attendance, interest, concentration or performance can sometimes indicate a problem, or they might have become disruptive and uncooperative. If they are able to recognise that a student is suffering with mental health and wellbeing, they could then seek the help of a counselor to determine if further action is needed to help the student.
3) Allow flexibility
Pupils suffering from mental health issues may struggle to complete homework or tasks on time, due to circumstances outside of their control. This can increase their mental health and wellbeing issues, as they begin to worry and get stressed about not meeting deadlines. Teachers can help students by minimising this impact on their mental health through allowing flexibility and extending deadlines in extreme cases. If the students feel that they are able to achieve, it will keep them engaged.
4) Create a positive school environment
For some children, the school can be a safe and stable environment, compared to a potential disruptive setting at home. Having a sense of belonging at school may be important for the pupils and it is vital to create and maintain this setting in order to help their mental health and wellbeing state.
Children must feel comfortable and able to come and speak to their teachers with any problems or issues they may have. According to research from the BBC School Report, half of teenagers with mental health and wellbeing issues try to cope alone. Furthermore, a third said they were not confident enough to speak to a teacher. This barrier must be resolved. Perhaps teachers could create an ‘open door policy’, reminding children that their doors are always open if advice or support is needed.
Let us know what you’re doing this Mental Health Awareness Day by tweeting @ImperoSoftware!