This week is Children’s Mental Health Week 2023 (6th-12th February 2023). This year’s theme is Let’s Connect with a focus on encouraging children (and adults) to look at how we can make meaningful connections. Last week we shared an article focussing on the importance of connection to help provide children with the support they need to thrive and develop into happy, healthy adults. If you missed it, you can read it here.
In this week’s article, we will focus further on the importance of supporting children with their mental health and wellbeing along with some wider tips and ways in which we can support children's mental health.
Mental health is a crucial aspect of a child's overall wellbeing, but it is often overlooked. In recent years, there has been an increased focus on the importance of mental health in children, and the statistics show just how critical the issue is…
According to the National Health Service (NHS), around 1 in 10 children and young people aged 5 to 16 in the UK have a diagnosable mental health condition. Additionally, the NHS reports that approximately 1 in 6 young people aged between 5 and 19 have a neuro-developmental condition, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism.
Furthermore, depression and anxiety are also common among children. A report by the Mental Health Foundation shows that over the past 25 years, the number of children and young people in the UK seeking help for mental health problems has risen by 70%.
The impact of mental health issues in children can be far-reaching, affecting their academic performance, relationships, and overall quality of life. It is important for parents, caregivers, and educators to recognize the signs of mental health problems and provide support and resources to children in need.
Some possible signs to watch out for include:
- Changes in mood or behaviour, such as increased irritability, tearfulness, or restlessness
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
- Difficulty with attention, concentration, or memory
- Low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Excessive anxiety, worry, or fearfulness
- Withdrawal from friends, family, and activities
- Increased aggression, defiance, or temper tantrums
- Physical complaints, such as headaches or stomach aches, with no apparent physical cause
- Loss of interest in school or declining academic performance
- Substance abuse or self-harming behaviour
It's important to note that these symptoms can be caused by various factors and may not necessarily indicate a mental health condition. A proper evaluation by a healthcare professional is needed for accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Some ways to support children's mental health and wellbeing include:
Encouraging open communication: Children should feel comfortable talking about their thoughts and feelings with trusted adults. Encouraging open communication can help identify any potential mental health problems early on.
Providing a supportive environment: Children need a safe and stable environment where they feel loved and supported. This can include a stable home life, positive relationships with peers and adults, and a supportive school environment.
Engaging in physical activity: Regular physical activity can improve a child's mood, reduce stress, and boost self-esteem.
Encouraging healthy habits: Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and reducing screen time can all positively impact a child's mental health.
Seeking professional help: If a child is struggling with their mental health, it is important to seek professional help from a mental health provider. In the UK, the NHS offers a range of services, including the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) program.
In conclusion, children's mental health is a critical issue that should not be ignored. The statistics show that mental health problems are prevalent among children, and it is important for parents, caregivers, and educators to recognize the signs and provide support and resources to children in need. By working together, we can create a supportive and healthy environment for children to thrive in.
You can find out more about how you can get involved in Children’s Mental Health Week here: https://www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk/
And if you are interested in finding out about our Youth Mental Health First Aid you can contact our team here