This week is Children’s Mental Health Week – a time to focus our thoughts and actions on how well we are supporting our young people and their individual wellbeing.
Of course, every week and every day should be a time to focus on children’s mental health.
The mental health and wellbeing of our children and young people is far too important to ignore – and this is what’s happening for too many children, in too many places.
It’s difficult to remain positive when we’ve been writing in this blog about mental health literally for years, and still we don’t see the fundamentals – or the funding – in place to tackle the extensive issues regarding the wellbeing of our children.
Here’s a selection of our posts that reiterate the need for immediate action. We are denying children their rights when we continue to ignore their needs.
- Action Needed on Wellbeing and Mental Health of Children and Young People – 11/2014: Outlining reports about suicide and the House of Commons’ report on CAMHS.
- Wellbeing at Wellington – where else? – 8/2014: Wellington College showing how wellbeing can be prioritised as well as some key mental health facts from Professor Tanya Byron.
- Wellbeing: Change or Status Quo? – 1/2015: Links between mental health, staff wellbeing, education policy and the need for action.
- Pedagogy and Wellbeing: A Political Issue? – 6/2012: Alistair Campbell’s views on education with wellbeing at its heart.
- Act Now – For the Rights of the Child -11/2014: The link between inaction on mental and health and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Wellbeing, Wellbeing and Wellbeing – 1/2014: 3Di Associates list of priorities for change.
- Stress Levels of Young People – Concerns about Wellbeing – 3/2014: Stress levels as reported by young women on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.
- Wellbeing and Education – Past, Present and Future – 10/2013: A brief history of the purpose of education in relation to wellbeing.
- Education Beyond Happiness: Finding Deeper Meaning and Joy – 4/2015: Sir Anthony Seldon’s views on mental health and wellbeing in schools.
- A Reasoned Debate: Why PSHE Education MUST be Statutory – 3/2015: The case for compulsory PSHE education and the inactivity of consecutive Secretaries of State for Education.
- Young People Seeking Help for Exam Stress – 5/2015: How the wellbeing and mental health of children and young people has been damaged by our high stakes exam system.
- Meeting the Needs of Students – Improving Wellbeing in Schools and Universities – 6/2015: Growing concern about the state of mental health of our children and young adults in education.
- #Equality4MentalHealth: Support this Campaign – 11/2015: The Campaign for Mental Health support and 3Di Associates’ supplementary ideas for children and young people.
- “Michael Gove ignored the rise in pupils’ mental illness” – 5/2015: How the former Sec. of State for Education ignored the problem and how we need to act now.
- Important Ofsted Changes: Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare – 9/2015: The effectiveness of a multiple intelligences approach to teaching and learning.
- Ofsted, Personal Development and 3Di Offer to Schools – 10/2015: The value of the “Personal Development” Ofsted judgement criteria and how schools can self-evaluate.
We have to act now. We have to thoroughly review our systems, our priorities, our pedagogy, our legislation – identifying what’s good, what works, what we ought to prioritise and how we can effectively manage the necessary improvements needed for the mental and emotional wellbeing of our children and young people.
Any action needs to be preventative as well as responsive to the needs of mentally unwell children – those neglected by a system that hasn’t accounted for their needs. Universal support is as important as targeted help. Compulsory PSHE is essential to ensuring that every child understands their rights, needs and the value of being well. A thorough review of CAMHS and the over-reliance on charities such as Place2Be needs to take place. The work that such charities do should be an integral part of schools – not an add-on in emergency situations.
The inclusion of “Personal Development” in the Ofsted framework and documents such as “Mental health and Behaviour in Schools” are valuable steps in the right direction but they can’t remain as theoretical possibilities rather than realities. The Education Select Committee’s “Life Lessons” has to be thoroughly re-read – a year on – and we all need to unite to lobby the government into action over PSHE.