Janette Smeeton, Safeguarding Lead and Clinical Supervisor, Derwent Rural Counselling Service looks at DRCS’ work in schools.
The children have returned to school. The frantic uniform and equipment buying is over and parents and carers can relax, or can we?
The new school term can bring many challenges for children and young people. New classes, new teachers, new school, trying to make new friends, new subjects, homework, thinking about what they would like to do in the future can all add up to a lot of stress.
Stress is a diagnosable mental health problem and children can really be impacted by this along with many other things including anxiety, depression, conduct disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, bereavement and many other issues.
One in ten children aged 5-16 years are affected by a mental health problem and this can severely impact their ability to learn and achieve and can be the cause of some behavioural problems in class. When children begin to experience mental ill health they can become very withdrawn and isolated as their confidence ebbs away. Sometimes, they can be the children that don’t create problems in class.
Approximately three children in every class room will have a mental health problem, 70 per cent of those will not get the help they need early enough. Half of all mental health problems have been established by the age of 14, rising to 75 per cent by age 24. This can lead to a life time of mental health difficulties.
If children do not receive the most appropriate help and support when they need it, they are at high risk of under achieving. Problems can include: absences from school for ill health, truancy, leaving school without qualifications, teenage pregnancy, eating disorders, self harm, drug dependency, imprisonment and suicide.
School staff are under a lot of pressure to deliver a full curriculum and support the well being of their students. DRCS are working with Derbyshire schools to promote positive mental health by offering advice and training on how to spot early warning signs that a child may be exhibiting mental health difficulties.
The training includes practical advice on how to include mental health resilience building strategies into school life. We also help staff to distinguish between what may be a mild to moderate mental health problem and those that may be more severe and share information about the most appropriate services to contact.
Schools can arrange for us to deliver a similar training course for parents and carers, this means that you could learn to spot early warning signs at home. Why not ask your school if they would be interested in arranging this?
At the current time many children and young people do not get the help and support they need. We are aiming to change that by teaching preventative strategies and getting young people seen as quickly as possible.
The Government has pledged that by 2020/21 at least 70,000 more children and young people should have access to high quality mental health care, we hope to see a better way forward for those in need.
For further information on DRCS’ work with schools call 0800 047 6861.