Developing Our Knowledge and Understanding of Children’s Mental Health
The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is suicide prevention. In the UK, suicide is the leading cause of death in young people, accounting for 14% of deaths in 10-19-year-olds (ONS). Due to the severity of this issue and our service for young people, we are publishing this article and educational resource so better enable more to prevent this giant killer at an early stage – where intervention is more likely to have a greater preventative effect.
Written by Ann-Marie Piper
‘At present, one in ten children and young people suffer from mental health problems. Evidence of symptoms are demonstrated through depression, anxiety and behavioural disorders. Positive mental health enables children to develop their resilience and grow into well-rounded adults’ (Mind, 2015).
On average, a minimum of three children within a typical classroom setting will suffer from mental health problems. Often these mental health problems will go unnoticed and thus undiagnosed until the child reaches crisis point (Mind, 2015).
It has been suggested that many adults will not seek support for their mental or physical health, until they have experienced a health lapse/crisis (Mind, 2018 and RethinkMenalIllness, 2019). Although many are able pick themselves up and turn their lives around, the same cannot be said for everyone: not everyone has the skills or the tools to make the successful changes necessary to make a full and long-lasting recovery (RethinkMentalIllness, 2019).
Why wait for a crisis?
At some point in our lives, each and every one of us experiences a mental health crisis – be it our own, a friend or a family member. When we come face-to-face with the realities of a mental health crisis, often feelings such as fear, frustration and loss come to the surface (RethinkMentalIllness 2019). It is evident that these feelings come to the surface, due to a lack of knowledge and understanding around the care and management of mental health (RethinkMentalIllness,2019).
For decades now, children have been taught the basic steps of how to get care for their physical health in both minor and major incidents. The same cannot be said for mental health care and management. The procedures of what people need to do should they have minor or major lapse in mental health, is not being made clear to our children (Action for Children, 2019). It is this lack of knowledge and understanding that causes many to only seek help when they have reached crisis point (Mind, 2019).
Teaching children to be emotionally aware and resilient is just as important as teaching children how to manage their physical health (Sly 2018). Teaching children, the self-awareness and tools/techniques needed to manage their own mental health, is key to decreasing the number of adults only seeking support when they reach crisis point (Mind, 2019).