The importance of discussing mental health with your child

While mental health used to be something of a taboo subject, awareness of the matter is increasing in mainstream culture, with a growing number of campaigns and movements aimed towards cultivating a new attitude towards mental health. Not only do adults suffer from or feel the effects of poor mental wellbeing, but it something that concerns children too, either through living with a friend or family member suffering from mental health concerns, or by experiencing and not understanding symptoms of it in themselves. Without awareness of mental health, both of these scenarios can be confusing and damaging to a child when left without being properly addressed.

To combat this, a scheme is being put in place at Goldsmith Primary School in Peckham, southeast London, encouraging children to talk about mental health by using fun games and activities. As well as initiating the conversation, it also aims to help teach children coping techniques for when they are feeling low, as well as how to recognise the signs of when themselves or those around them are experiencing difficulties to do with mental health.

Last year, a study by the Department of Health and Time to Change found that 55% of parents had not discussed mental health with their children, yet Young Minds estimates that 1 in 10 children aged 5 – 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. Even if your family is not personally affected by mental health concerns, it is important to raise the issue within your household from a young age in order to educate your children for the future, and to safeguard their wellbeing.

By openly discussing mental health and making it an approachable subject to talk about, your child will feel comfortable if they ever experience any behaviour that could be a sign of mental illness – taking steps to seek help and protect their health.

Simple steps such as asking your children to identify emotions such as anger, worry, sad and excitement can help kids to be aware of their feelings – a great first step for opening up conversations about more complex emotions in the future. After identifying how your children are feeling, talk them through how they are currently coping with difficult situations, offering advice if they seem stuck.

Do you openly talk about mental health at home? Do your children associate ‘mental health’ with negative connotations, or are they happy to talk about their feelings?

Share how you think it is best to approach this subject with children in our online forum today.


Schools Urged to Address “Significant Gap” In Dyspraxia Diagnosis in Young Girls

Schools are being urged to address a “significant gap” in the diagnosis of dyspraxia among girls after a survey found they are at risk of “slipping through the net.”

Findings published by the Dyspraxia Foundation have revealed that more than half of young girls have the disorder and said their teachers were unaware of this. The condition causes difficulties in movement and co-ordination.

Early diagnosis is crucial to sufferers get the support they need to develop fundamental movement skills for activities such as writing, using cutlery and getting dressed.

“Traits are being overlooked in children because they are girls and we are not sensitive and alert to that, as we used not to be with boys…”

There were 1156 respondents to the survey. 619 of those were parents of children with dyspraxia. The survey found that the ratio of boys to girls being diagnosed with the condition is 3:1.Current evidence suggests that the male to female diagnosis ratio is actually 2:1.

Experts from the foundation – which is the only national charity in the UK dedicated to generating awareness about the condition – believe the findings indicate most teachers believe the condition to be mainly a male disorder.

Sally Payne, a paediatric occupational therapist and trustee of the Dyspraxia Foundation told, “This survey really has underlined a pattern we’ve observed for some time and whilst the results do reinforce a concerning trend of many girls sliding under the radar of relevant healthcare professionals, it allows us to push on with plans for developing specific materials, tools and resources for girls and adolescents as well as for their parents and teachers.”

The gender gap is something that The Dyspraxia Foundation will focus on during its 2015 awareness week in October. Thanks to a recent Big Lottery Fund grant of £166,265 the charity will also relaunch its helpline, employ a dedicated youth information officer and begin producing an information pack for girls.

“Earlier diagnosis would help, but how are teachers going to get the time to teach when they’re being told … they have to also identify children with mental health and invisible disabilities?”

The founder of SEN website, Special Needs Jungle, Tania Tirraora told that the findings show why girls with the condition go unnoticed for longer.

“Earlier diagnosis would help, but how are teachers going to get the time to teach when they’re being told … they have to also identify children with mental health and invisible disabilities?”

Jason Page, managing director of the company behind Calder House, a co-educational day-school for children with dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia and language difficulties said, “Traits are being overlooked in children because they are girls and we are not sensitive and alert to that, as we used not to be with boys. We’re not looking as hard as we should.

“The solution is to look at every child as an individual, not lumped together as boys or girls. If all schools had a better understanding of how each child learns then you can be much more specific about how you are going to teach them.”

What do you think schools should do to close the gap between girls and boys with dyspraxia? Share your thoughts with us on social media!


Should Mental Health be more of a Priority in Schools?

“Such widespread concern among school leaders about pupils’ wellbeing should be a wake-up call to society as a whole. Mental health issues, domestic violence, bullying and drugs have implications that reach beyond the school gates, and can seriously impact on the future prospects of those affected.”
Fergal Roche, chief executive of The Key

A recent survey found that mental health problems among children are a growing concern for schools. Conducted by The Key, an organisation which provides management support for schools, found that 67% of headteachers were worried about student mental health – a 57% rise from last year.

What is being done in schools currently, and can more be done to help support students who may be experiencing some form of mental health issue?

What is the issue?

Mental health has been a growing concern for schools over the past few years. The National Union of Teachers (NUT) says that exam focus can damage mental health, while Michael Gove’s recent school reforms ‘ignored’ the rise in pupils’ mental health issues.

One in four people will experience some form of mental health issue in their lives, regardless of their age. In 2012 8.2 million students were said to be attending 24,372 schools in the UK – meaning that roughly 2,050,000 pupils could be at risk of developing mental health issues during the school year.

What is being done?

In March the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, announced new measures to help ensure that students who may be suffering in silence have the support they need to keep themselves safe and healthy, while helping classmates develop an understanding of the problems they’re facing.

The new step-change means that children will be supported inside and outside the classroom. A brand new guidance for schools in conjunction with the PSHE Association, providing schools with age-appropriate teaching on mental health problems including anxiety, depression, eating disorders and self-harm.

The blueprint offers advice on school counselling services, providing headteachers with advice on how to deliver top-quality school counselling services that meets the need of those suffering.

A multi-million-pound funding injection for organisations that offer volunteer services to young people suffering from mental health issues was also announced. A new funding commitment worth £4.9 million through the government’s voluntary and community sector funding programme, aims to provide a greater support network to young people with mental health issues.

Do you think enough is being done to tackle mental health issues in schools? Or is it too little too late? Share your thoughts with us on social media!