There’s been such a lot in the media over the last few months about mental health, whether in adults or children. It’s something that we’re very conscious of at BraveHeart as our children and young people struggle with their own mental health issues. Not only that, but the impact of living and working with children who’ve experienced trauma can have devastating effects on our own mental health.
Teresa May this week has stated that she will prioritise Secondary Schools understanding and awareness of Mental Health issues, which is brilliant. However, there are so many children in Primary school who struggle in different ways. For some time now there has been a Mental Health First Aid qualification that enables organisations to not only have a First Aider for physical health but a Mental Health First Aider too.
As I have travelled around many schools up and down the country over the last few years I have come across this feeling time and time again. We are not equipped within our schools to cope with the complex need that children and young people are presenting now. Whether that’s self-harm, depression, suicidal tendencies, substance misuse, aggression, loneliness, abandonment or any number of issues that can hinder a child’s ability to learn. All are difficult and take a certain amount of awareness and understanding to be able to help.
Of course we do have professionals that can, and should, be dealing with the intensity of some of the needs, but those services can be hard to come by. It seems that a child has to be on the extreme end of these issues before they will be seen. Many could be helped and supported to not get to that stage by those of us who see them day in and day out being more skilled to help wherever we can.
So what can we do about this?
We can strive to be more aware of what’s behind the presenting behaviour you might see. Find out what challenges they may have at home, if you can. Imagine how stressful life at school is for some children and young people who don’t have the support they need at home or are caring for adults themselves.
Read up on mental health issues. There are many books and websites out there that can help with this. For example www.youngminds.org.uk, has lots of information and resources. Also www.time-to-change.org.uk is a good site to look at.
Maybe consider someone becoming a Mental Health First Aider by completing a two-day course. We are running one at our offices in Halesowen, West Midlands in the next few months, contact us for more information.
I am so pleased that this subject is higher on the agenda at the moment. Wouldn’t it be great to have the same level of emphasise on mental health as physical health? What a difference that could make to our children, young people, families and society in general?