At Young Engineers we have a passion for building a better future, so we can’t turn a blind eye to the concerning findings of the stem4 report on children and young people’s mental health. The report underscores the alarming increase in the number and complexity of mental health problems amongst young people, exacerbated by the challenges of the post-COVID era.
Waiting times for specialist intervention have grown, leading to a desperate search for alternative coping mechanisms. In this blog, we delve into the importance of early intervention and share practical tips for schools, families, and children themselves for emotional resilience and wellbeing.
The impact of the pandemic
The pandemic has left an lasting mark on the mental health landscape of our young people. Social inequalities, economic challenges, and the strains on parental mental health have created a perfect storm.
The report highlights how children are turning to social media for a DIY approach to mental health or withdrawing and avoiding challenging situations. Schools, now more than ever, are becoming the first line of defence as traditional health gatekeepers struggle to meet the growing demand.
The role of schools
Schools play a pivotal role in shaping the mental wellbeing of our children. To address this crisis, we propose several tips for schools to support students in overcoming anxiety, stress, and avoidance behaviours:
- Early detection and intervention – the implementation of programmes that train teachers to recognise early signs of mental health challenges. Early detection allows for timely intervention and prevents issues from escalating
- Promoting a culture of openness – build environments where students can feel comfortable discussing their feelings without fear of judgment. This can be achieved through regular check-ins, awareness campaigns, and de-stigmatising conversations around mental health
- External resources for holistic development – create collaborations with external resources, such as the services we offer here at Young Engineers, to introduce learning through play. Or programmes that encourage trial and error to build resilience, independence, and problem-solving skills
Tips for families
As parents and caregivers working with partners such as schools or clubs in supporting children’s mental health is essential. Here are some tips families can take onboard:
- Open communication channels – demonstrate open communication to enable open dialogues at home where children feel safe expressing their emotions. By encouraging regular family discussions this allows us to check-in on everyone’s wellbeing
- Limit screen time – setting boundaries on screen time can reduce exposure to potentially harmful online content. Building in real-world connections and activities can help to balance the vast digital spaces
- Seek professional guidance – if signs of mental health challenges emerge, seek guidance from mental health professionals. Early intervention is crucial for preventing long-term consequences.
Empowering our children
Finally, let’s empower children to take control of their own mental wellbeing, through:
- Mindfulness practices – introduce simple mindfulness exercises to help children manage stress and build emotional resilience. These practices can be easily incorporated into daily routines and can be done together
- Encourage hobbies and passion projects – support your children in discovering and pursuing their interests. Hobbies provide an outlet for creativity and serve as a healthy distraction from daily stressors
- Teaching coping strategies – by equipping children with coping strategies such as deep breathing, positive self-talk they’ll be able to recognise when they may need to seek additional help. These tools will be invaluable for navigating life’s challenges.
The stem4 report serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for early intervention in addressing children’s mental health. By implementing the above tips in schools and homes, we can collectively create an environment where children not only survive but thrive. Armed with the resilience needed to face life’s uncertainties head-on.
At Young Engineers we’re here to support you in building a solid foundation for emotional wellbeing.