BLOG: Children and Young People – Building emotional resilience and psychological wellbeing
School years are important for children and young people to develop social, emotional, knowledge and behaviours. These years are the most impressionable years in a young persons life. This period sets them up to determine how well they cope with their mental health and wellbeing into adulthood.
Building emotional resilience can help young people to cope and manage better with stressors in life. As a result of this, they will be able to bounce back from adversity, and ultimately this will help in preventing the development of mental health problems later in life.
A large amount of time is spent by young people in the classroom, schools can provide an ideal environment to promote good emotional wellbeing, identifying any early behaviour changes and stressors.
Stress in schools is a real problem. Young people worry about their home life or school life. In a survey conducted in 2016 by Association of Schools & College Leaders & National Children’s Bureau, it was found that over 90% of school leaders reported a rise in the number of students experiencing anxiety or stress and low mood or depression, over the last few years.
Students need education to include how to understand and look after their mental health – just like we learn how to look after our physical health. By shifting the focus to preventing mental health problems and building resilience we can do so much to improve the lives of so many. Good emotional wellbeing on leaving school has a much greater impact on life outcomes than exam success.
Currently, only one in four children are able to access the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). As there is an increase in the demand for specialist mental health services, the NHS is struggling to meet this demand. The lack of capacity leads to increase in waiting times or higher thresholds for children and young people to access these services. The help to children and young people is simply coming too late.
In 2015/2016, Childline had 50,819 counselling sessions with children and young people worried about suicidal feelings, self-harm, mental health or depressive disorders. Rates of depression and anxiety for young people have increased by 70% in the past 25 years.
Early education and support in schools, support through psycho-education for parents and offering alternatives such as various therapies for children and young people, can all help to build the emotional resilience and mental wellbeing.
Evidence shows that these mental health initiatives can lead to significant improvements in the children’s mental health, reduction in absence, truancy, anxiety, depression and bullying.
There needs to be a greater focus on the early identification of problems, early intervention and more preventative work to be done to address the growing problem of children and young people’s mental health.