The issue of children’s mental health has received much attention in recent weeks since the Duchess of Cambridge spoke out about child mental health conditions as part of Children’s Mental Health Week (8-14th February). As part of the week-long campaign, the Duchess of Cambridge was recorded in a video describing how important it is that children are equipped with the “tools to cope, and to thrive” to help them deal with the challenges they encounter.

 

There have been increasing concerns around mental health and children, after it was revealed back in November that more than half of parents have never spoken about mental health to their children. Now, the National Association of Head Teachers has called for more to be done in schools to tackle mental health issues, with more than two-thirds of primary schools currently unable to deal with these issues. As 20% of children will suffer a mental health issue before they turn 11, more needs to be done to provide the support necessary for children to cope with the challenges they may be facing.

The Duchess of Cambridge is the royal patron of Place2Be, a charity which provides emotional support to children in schools. She explained that by making sure that “every child is given the emotional support they need, we are giving them a firm foundation for the happy healthy future they deserve.” The video was recorded at Salisbury Primary School in north-west London, where some of the pupils have been amongst those benefitting from the support offered by the charity.

Resilience is a key issue for the charity – one that through this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week, they hope to be able to instil within children to help them deal with stressful situations. These skills will not only benefit them through their school years, but in their adult lives as well.

 

More investment needed by the government

At present, the government has pledged £1.4 billion for children’s mental health. However, issues exist around resourcing within schools, as specialist counselling services are required, which are outside teachers’ capabilities. Catherine Roach, the Chief Executive of Place2Be said:

“Teachers are not counsellors, and sometimes schools need professional support to make sure that problems in childhood do not spiral into bigger mental health problems in later life.”

With 64% not having access to an onsite counsellor due mostly to financial reasons, schools are facing increased pressure to offer these kinds of services.

 

Understanding the help that is available

Whilst there is still work to be done to ensure that all schools have access to mental health support for children, there are charities like Place2Be who work to offer one-to-one and group counselling as well as other services to improve children’s mental health services. Meanwhile, other campaigns exist such as Time to Change, which is looking to change the perceptions of mental health issues to help improve awareness and treatment, which includes vital work within schools.

If you would like more information on the help available for children with mental health issues, the YoungMinds website has some excellent resources which are valuable for both parents and children, as well as older young people who may need support during high school, college and university. Your GP is also an important person to get in touch with, so don’t hesitate to make an appointment.