Mental Health and Wellbeing
24 April, 2019
By Gaye Holmes
Every day in the news and media, we hear stories about the decline of the mental and physical
health and wellbeing of the population, in both adults and children.
There are some terrible statistics that make very sad reading:
- 1 in 3 young people under the age of 16 are classed as obese
- 10% of young people under the age of 16 have mental health problems
- 1 in 15 young people under the age of 16 have self-harmed
- 3 in 4 of young people with a mental health problem are not receiving treatment
- 75% of mental illnesses start before a child reaches 18
- 50% of mental health problems in adult life (excluding dementia) start before the age of 15
- The average wait for effective treatment is 10 years
- Suicide is a leading cause of death in young men and women aged 20-34 in the UK
Many factors contribute to the declining mental health and wellbeing of children today. But instead
of focussing on all the negative influences, let’s look at ways that we can help children to manage
living in today’s world and give them tools and coping strategies to work with.
- They need to understand about their bodies and how physical health can affect mental health and vice versa.
- They need to learn about nutrition and looking after themselves and understand that a healthy body can cope with a lot more stress and pressure than an unhealthy body
- They need to have a positive outlook and a growth mindset
- They need to build their confidence and self-esteem and become more resilient
- They need to be able to recognise signs of stress and anxiety and have calming techniques and strategies in place to help them to manage their moods
- They need to learn kindness, tolerance, acceptance and empathy and be able to manage relationships with friends, family and other people.
They also need to look at the impact they have on their environment and how they are responsible for looking after the world around them.
With all these tools, children have a better outlook and feel more able to cope with the pressures of
being a child, and are far more likely to have a happier, healthier childhood and therefore a happier
and healthier adulthood.
Here are my top 5 tips to help you to introduce Mental Health and Wellbeing tools into your school:
- Use a healthy eating and nutrition topic throughout the curriculum - add up a shopping list
of healthy fruit and veg in maths, or plan a healthy menu using interesting adjectives and
similes in literacy
- Use positive affirmations throughout the day and encourage children to use them
- Use simple breathing techniques to help children to take control of their thoughts and feelings, and give them time to calm their anxiety
- Use drama, dance and role play to help them understand different situations and relationships, and empathise with other people’s feelings and emotions
- Use the healthy planet as inspiration for writing poetry and stories, or creating artwork
There is a fantastic range of resources on the imoves platform including Healthy Body and Healthy
Eating videos to dance along to, Guided Meditation audio tracks, Positivity and Growth Mindset
activities and breathing techniques as well as lots of Mood management tools and activities to help
kids and teachers on their journey to health and happiness.