Children's mental health week: our perspective
Tackling student mental health in schools requires a different perspective according to resilience specialist Emma Ogilvie. In a school system based on individual performance and academic results, it makes sense that students deal with the pressures and challenges of everyday life ‘quietly’ and ‘individually.’ But this has a huge impact on student mental health, relationships and the ability to adapt to change and uncertainty.
This tendency to manage emotions and stress ‘quietly and individually,’ is reinforced by current school strategies focusing on ‘relaxation’ and student counselling. This arguably places the emphasis and responsibility on the student managing their own mental health, rather than building a collective way forward. Mental health is a community issue long before it becomes a clinical one.
With rising poor mental health statistics, current interventions are not reversing the trends in our community and schools.
These current interventions ignore the starker reality of the everyday challenges faced by young people and the support network around them.
The 2018 Modern Family Index report shows 1 in 3 parents report being burnt out often or all of the time and as far back as 2016, the Jersey Health Profile report highlighted 1 in 3 islanders experience ‘high anxiety’ in comparison to just 1 in 5 in England.
Recent Jersey Government reports on young people show the trends in students seeking support from school-based counsellors as:
1) family issues (child/parent arguments),
2) personal problems (stress, anxiety, self-esteem) and
3) peer group challenges (bullying and relationship problems),
Viewed collectively they highlight a much-needed move towards a wider and more inclusive community approach.
They point to a need to change the way we view and manage mental health, for our children and their future.
Prevention in the truest sense is about practicing healthy behaviours and building in protective barriers that can prevent poor mental health. As individuals, parents, professionals and members of our community, how focused on doing this are we?
Imagine if we could better support our future generations by teaching them proactive ways to effectively manage their mental and emotional health. Imagine the impact in their ability to affect more control over their relationships, personal success and life in general.
Since 2016, the Resilience Development Company have delivered skill-based resilience across the school community to provide a more collective approach towards supporting mental health. The programmes enable students, parents and teachers who provide the support network around them, to proactively manage their mental health, relationships and performance. Ensuring wellbeing becomes the responsibility of everyone.
When considering student mental health, the statistics show that current interventions are not as effective as they could be.
The skill-based resilience programmes bring people together to directly tackle poor mental health. Collectively they develop a shared skill set, mindset and common language. They are enabled to support one another, be solution focused and talk about emotions, aspirations and challenges without feeling vulnerable.
Resilience builds the fundamental building blocks for mental health, learning and performance
It makes sense to acknowledge the crucial link between learning and the social and emotional challenges that act as barriers to student mental health and academic outcomes. The modular programme is typically delivered once a week over 8 weeks and secondary school results show:
- 100% of students & parents, and 80% of teachers are now better able to deal with pressure and stress.
- Anxiety levels significantly reduced across students and their parent and teacher network.
- All students and their support networks now feel better able to communicate their emotions without feeling vulnerable and better manage difficult relationships and conflict.
- Student positive behaviour increased by 400% and academic performance increased significantly beyond school expectation.
“ I used to worry a lot and this would lead to me having time off school. I really don’t think I would have coped with the stress of GCSE’s without this programme. It has helped me with my worrying and self-belief.”
“ My mental health is better knowing I can relax & I am safe.”
“ This unique and innovative course has helped bring about better learning, emotional stability, stronger relationships and personal success for our students.”
“ We talk more as a family unit. ”
“ Useful for home but also massively for work, I am less stressed & happier at home. Much calmer environment now.”
The statistics I highlighted earlier show that current interventions are not as effective as they could be. Schools can use skill-based resilience programmes to act as a preventative measure against poor mental health so they can future-proof our children and the wider school community. Resilience programmes give people the skills to better manage their mental health and navigate life’s challenges more resiliently.
Become part of an initiative that will change the way we tackle poor mental health in our community
Imagine if we could collectively support, under one programme; young people and the parents and teachers who provide the support network around them?
Funding is critical to the project’s success. Please get in touch if you’re an organisation that is committed to supporting young people and families.