Mental health problems affect about 1 in 10 children and young people. They include depression, anxiety and conduct disorder, and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives.
70% of children and young people who experience a mental health problem have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.
The emotional wellbeing of children is just as important as their physical health. Good mental health allows children and young people to develop the resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults.
Things that can help keep children and young people mentally well include:
Changes often act as triggers: moving home or school or the birth of a new brother or sister, for example. Some children who start school feel excited about making new friends and doing new activities, but there may also be some who feel anxious about entering a new environment.
Teenagers often experience emotional turmoil as their minds and bodies develop. An important part of growing up is working out and accepting who you are.
Risk factors that make some children and young people more likely to experience problems than other children:
Common mental health problems in children and young people:
Organisations that can help (UK):
Information from mentalhealth.org.uk
Loneliness in Young People
Loneliness is a significant problem that can predispose young children to immediate and long-term negative consequences. Early childhood experiences that contribute to loneliness may predict loneliness during adulthood.
Many young children understand the concept of loneliness and report feeling lonely. For example, kindergarten and first-grade children responded appropriately to a series of questions regarding what loneliness is ("being sad and alone"), where it comes from ("nobody to play with"), and what one might do to overcome feelings of loneliness ("find a friend") (Cassidy & Asher, 1992). In a more recent study (Ladd, Kochenderfer, & Coleman, 1996), kindergarten children's loneliness in school was reliably measured with a series of questions such as, "Are you lonely in school?"; "Is school a lonely place for you?"; and "Are you sad and alone in school?" These studies suggest that young children's concepts of loneliness have meaning to them and are similar to those shared by older children and adults.
Consequences of Loneliness:
Contributing Factors of Loneliness:
Although research in support of specific practices assisting lonely children in the classroom is weak, teachers might consider several approaches that may be adapted to individual children. Children who are aggressive report the greatest degrees of loneliness and social dissatisfaction (Asher, Parkhurst, Hymel, & Williams, 1990). Children are rejected for many reasons, and teachers will need to assess the circumstances that seem to lead to the rejection. Is the child acting aggressively toward others? Does the child have difficulty entering ongoing play and adapting to the situation? Does the child have difficulty communicating needs and desires? Once the problem is identified, teachers can assist the child in changing the situation. The teacher can point out the effects of the child?s behavior on others, show the child how to adapt to the ongoing play, or help the child to clearly communicate feelings and desires. Children who are supported, nurtured, and cherished are less likely to be rejected and more likely to interact positively with peers (Honig & Wittmer, 1996).
Children who are neglected or withdrawn also report feelings of loneliness, although to a lesser extent than do aggressive-rejected children. Because these children often lack social skills, they have difficulty interacting with their peers. These children may also be extremely shy, inhibited, and anxious, and they may lack self-confidence (Rubin, LeMare, & Lollis, 1990). If children lack certain skills, the teacher can focus on giving feedback, suggestions, and ideas that the child can implement. Children who possess adequate social skills but are reluctant to use them can be given opportunities for doing so by being paired with younger children. This experience gives the older child an opportunity to practice skills and boost self-confidence.
Children who are victimized by others believe that school is an unsafe and threatening place and often express a dislike for school. Furthermore, these children report lingering feelings of loneliness and a desire to avoid school even when victimization ceases (Kochenderfer & Ladd, 1996). These findings point to the importance of implementing immediate intervention strategies to reduce victimization. Teachers can provide firm but supportive suggestions to the aggressor. For example, teachers might guide and assist children in developing the life skills they need, such as respecting others and self, engaging in problem solving, working together on skills and tasks that require cooperation, and expressing feelings and emotions in appropriate ways (Gartrell, 1997).
Teachers can think about how the curricula might be helpful to a child who is feeling lonely. Some children may benefit by being given opportunities to express their feelings of sadness or loneliness through manipulation, drawing, movement, music, or creative activities (Edwards, Gandini, & Forman, 1993). Arranging the dramatic play area with props may help some children act out or express their feelings and feel a sense of control. Use of crisis-oriented books with children, referred to as bibliotherapy, may assist a child in coping with a personal crisis. Sharing carefully selected literature with children may assist in facilitating emotional health. Children who are able to express and articulate their concerns may want to talk about their unhappiness.
Information from mentalhelp.net