Children spend a huge proportion of their life in education settings: around 1170 hours a year! Schools are therefore well-placed to support children and young people with their mental health and wellbeing. This is because, for most children, school is a safe and secure base where they have developed solid relationships with adults and peers. This was also recognised in the Green Paper (Gov UK, 2017) which highlighted that schools are not only well-placed to support children with the improvement of wellbeing, but school staff also play a vital role in identifying mental health needs at an early stage. This includes referring young people to specialist support and working jointly with others to support young people experiencing issues with their emotional and mental health.
So, what is good mental health? Good mental health can be described as:
- the capacity to enter into and sustain mutually satisfying and sustaining relationships;
- continually progress with psychological development;
- the ability to play and learn so that attainment levels are age and intellectually appropriate;
- the development of a moral sense of right and wrong;
- the capacity to cope with a degree of psychological distress;
- a clear sense of identity and self-worth
In contrast, we may notice children or young people with specific concerns regarding their mental health, such as signs that their levels of anxiety are impacting their daily functioning, or that their mood is consistently low which is impacting their daily life.
One of the most effective ways to think about good mental health is through building children and young people’s resilience. Resilience is, despite risk factors, children’s strength in response to adverse life events. Just like we can’t control the sea, we can learn to ride the waves. In the next blog post, we will look at how to build children’s resilience through a resilience-based approach.
We have now released a brand new training course all about mental health and resilience in the context of education and children – it is written and delivered by Educational Psychologist Dr. Amy Sweet and can be found here.
- Gov UK. 2017. Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision: a green paper.
- Young Minds (https://www.youngminds.org.uk/)