We all hope that our children’s primary school years will be filled with the makings of great memories – fun, friends, laughter and happiness. However for many children the reality doesn’t quite match up to this idyllic vision.
Children’s mental health charity Place2Be, of which HRH The Duchess of Cambridge is Royal Patron, launched its annual Children’s Mental Health Week campaign earlier this week with the results of a survey conducted among Year 6 pupils (Primary 7 in Scotland). It found that almost two thirds (63%) worry ‘all the time’ about at least one thing to do with their school life, home life or themselves.
“We like to think of primary school as an innocent, happy time,” says Catherine Roche, Place2Be’s chief executive. “But in reality we know that young children can worry about a lot of things – whether it’s something going on at home, with their friends, or even about bad things happening in the world.”
Of course it’s not abnormal for children to feel anxious or concerned about aspects of their lives now and again, but when they start finding it difficult to stop worrying or these worries begin to impact on their school work, sleep and happiness, we need to look for ways to help them cope.
As part of the survey children were also asked what adults could do to make things better, to which over 80% said that ‘being kind’ and ‘listening’ were very important. Many of those surveyed also recognised the importance of being kind of each other, saying that if a friend felt worried about something they would try to cheer them up and listen to their concerns.
To this end the charity has chosen ‘spread a little kindness’ as its message for this awareness week, asking everyone (adults and children) to pay attention to the small things that can make a big difference in childhood mental health.
“Even seemingly small things, like asking someone how they are or listening to them, can make a difference,” says Roche. “Schools and families play a crucial role in ensuring that children learn to look out for each other, and know how to get help if they need it. These are skills that will last a lifetime.”
Children’s Mental Health Week takes place from the 6-12 February 2017. For more information check out the charity’s website here.
The NHS website also has some useful information on childhood anxiety and ways to help young people cope with their worries.