Friday 9 October 2020

Looking out for my kids on World Mental Health Day

I heard on the news the other day that there had been a reduction in the referrals to mental health services since the pandemic.  I don't know about everyone else, but it seems to me that we need these services now as much as ever.. if not more.  Things have been different, and change can create a lot of uncertainty and anxiety and many people have been coping with a lot more. 

The Children's Society have recently published their ninth version of The Good Childhood Report (2020). Earlier in the summer they reported on the cost of the Coronavirus crisis. They saw a marked increase in the numbers of children reporting low well-being, with half of parents saying they felt the Coronavirus would continue to have a negative impact on their children’s well-being in the year ahead. 

The report had plenty to say anyway. Over nearly the last decade the society have been collecting data for these report and in that time children’s happiness with life has been in decline. Worries about relationships with friends, appearance and school have been key factors.  According to the society, even before the pandemic, 15-year-olds in the UK were among the saddest and least satisfied with their lives in Europe.

More young people are becoming unhappy with school. According to their report, there are high levels of ‘fear of failure’ among 15 year olds in the UK compared to other countries with many kids feeling their life didn’t have a sense of purpose.  The report found that over 130,000 UK children aged between 10 and 15 years of age had no close friends. 

Our kids education and their ability to function in society has always been a big priority for us and perhaps their additional needs have highlighted.  Our eldest son, Anthony, had his whole outlook on life changed when he started a specialist secondary school... is his own words he was 'finally going to go to a school that would work for him'.  It's fair to say that he now has class'mates' which is at least one step closer to friends than simply the 'other people who went to my school' that he used to have.

Both the boys schools give them stability, routine and support which all help with mental health.  Being educated at home had some benefits for one of them and was really challenging for the other.  But even though I generally think I'm aware of anxiety about friendships mostly with my daughter,  I know that looking after their mental health is just as important now as it had ever been.  And as my eldest hits this delicate tweenager stage, I know there's lots to look out for. 

If you are looking for support for a child or young person's mental health, you could visit YoungMinds. Whether you want to know more about how their or you are feeling, get information about a mental health condition or know what support is available, their guides can help.

For a full copy of The Good Childhood Report 2020 from The Children's Society, click here

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