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Children's Mental Health

Children's Mental Health Week 2022: Growing Together

Living though this pandemic has been challenging for us all and nearly two years of intermittent disruption has had a huge effect on young people's lives. We know that many young people are struggling with their mental health and there are regular stories in the news about the huge rise in referrals to children and young people's mental health services.

Pupils' mental health and wellbeing is a priority for parents and schools. We obviously want our young people to grow physically, intellectually and emotionally. So how can we help our children?

In the Summer 2021 term, our Year 9s and 11s completed an online survey which highlighted areas that our pupils felt they had missed out on as a result of lockdowns. As a result, our GC/PSHEe programme this year has been revised to reflect the needs of our pupils.

Children’s Mental Health Week is run by children's mental health charity Place2Be and the theme for 7-13 February 2022 is Growing Together - growing emotionally and finding ways to help each other grow. Trying new things can help us to move out of our comfort zone and open up new opportunities. You can choose to see challenges and setbacks as a way to grow and adapt.

As parents and carers, we constantly learn, grow and adapt as our children and young people change, grow and learn. Continuing to help our pre-teens and teenagers develop emotionally is crucial to the young people they will develop into. The teenage years are a transition from childhood into adulthood and many teens feel overwhelmed at times by the emotional and physical changes they are experiencing. They may feel under pressure to achieve or to fit in or may want to be more independent. Since March 2020 there has been the added complication of Covid-19 and the impact of lockdowns, self-isolation and potential health issues. As adults, we know how challenging the teenage years can be, particularly emotionally, even if teenagers find it hard to believe that we may have been through similar situations (albeit without the additional pressure of social media). Showing your children that you, and they, can continue to develop and grow, even when things are hard, is part of being a good role model. None of us are perfect but we can be kind and be the best we can be.

There are a number of Growth Stories from the world of TV, music and sport on the Children's Mental Health Week website, including these from Dr Alex George and actor Mandip Gill:

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Actor Kit Young was asked by the Children's Mental Health Week team: What advice would you give to your younger self? He replied: 'I think it's OK to not put too much pressure on yourself all the time. I think it's OK to ask questions. It's OK to be wrong about things. Quite often you'll find that there isn't a right answer, except for Maths - in Maths there definitely is one! Your teenage years are the perfect time to start having these conversations because everyone around you is developing. The really lovely thing is that as much as you will be going through all these changes, so will all of your peers, so will all of your friends. And so, if we are kind to each other and allow people to get it wrong, allow people to fail sometimes and to change their mind about things, if we treat people with a bit of kindness, then I think it makes it easier on all of us.'

This activity might help teenagers and young people explore their personal growth by looking back at ways you have grown in the past and imagine how you want to keep growing in the future:

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Children's Mental Health Week have some suggestions for emotional growth under five headings: switch off, learn something new, practice empathy, love more, give self care.

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Have you come across the term 'Emotional Intelligence'? It has been popularised since the publication in 1995 of the book 'Emotional Intelligence' by psychologist Daniel Goleman, who developed the argument that non-cognitive skills can matter as much as IQ for success at work. Understanding and managing our emotions (and the emotions of others) can help us become more successful in our personal and work lives. Goleman presents 5 categories of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Find out more...

Learning what things help you feel better is an important part of everyone's self growth and wellbeing. It might be going for a run. It could be listening to raucous music. It might be doing a yoga routine. It could be chatting to a close friend or trusted family member.

As with so many facets of life, communication is key.  If it all seems too overwhelming, TALK. Ask for help. In school, pupils' first port of call should be their tutor, a member of the Pastoral team or a teacher they feel comfortable talking with.

Useful Links:

Seen on social media recently: Treat everyone with kindness, not because they are nice but because you are. Your kindness to someone or smile in their direction may change their day for the better.