Mental health concerns our wellbeing, our ability to complete everyday tasks and our ability to cope with stress. We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. If we are mentally healthy we will feel more of the positive emotions and will be more resilient and able to deal with life’s ups and downs. It is also completely normal to have dips in our mental health and these can be caused by school stress, sporting injuries, lack of a healthy lifestyle to name but a few. Mental health is a focus in society now more than ever due to the pandemic and the isolation it has caused. However – mental health can be impacted by many stressors and these can be large or small. Each individual copes with stress in a different way – and these causes of stress will also differ too. Some young people will find homework, deadlines and exams a source of stress whilst others will take these in their stride but may find social situations stressful. Some may cope well with stress until they experience a traumatic event such as a bereavement or indeed the uncertainty of COVID-19.
If you are concerned about your child’s mental health it is important to start a conversation with them. By taking twenty minutes to do an activity you will both enjoy or by going for a walk this can open the conversation in a less pressured way. Find more information on starting a conversation with your child by clicking here. Perhaps you could do some activities that fall under the NHS ‘five ways to wellbeing’. Connect with others – social relations whether within the family or virtually are critical for our wellbeing and are a fundamental need of humans. Being Active – not only are physical and mental health linked but by also finding an enjoyable activity we can benefit from being in fresh air or again by socialising with others. Taking Notice – by reminding ourselves to take notice we can become more grateful as well as to be more motivated and enjoy our surroundings. To Learn – by having enthusiasm in a topic and wanting to learn more about it it encourages good self-esteem and encourages positive use of time and achievement such as when we learn a musical instrument. To Give – participating in social and community life makes us feel better – by helping others we inevitably are also helping ourselves!
As a parent it is important to model good habits. Children often learn by copying and therefore if you are taking good care of your own mental health they likely will theirs too. Mobile phones and lack of sleep can cause a huge impact on young people’s mental health and it is important young people understand the need for good quality sleep. When these conversations take place, it is important to make them feel secure, spend time talking about why they may feel the way they do and if you think your child needs professional help do speak to your GP.
We're aware that the pressure and stress of modern life can play heavily on the minds of young people and we'd like to ensure that our students look after their mental health. At Herne Bay High we promote positive mental health strategies and awareness through both PSHE lessons and through mentor times as well as by having a secure support network in place for every young person in the school. Throughout lockdown we have promoted ‘Wellbeing Wednesday’ – the opportunity to discuss different strategies each week to help our young people cope with lockdown. Not only this but staff at the school are always on hand to speak to students should they have any worries or concerns and we would encourage them to seek advice if they feel it is necessary. You child's Mentor and Year Manager will be able to offer help and advice and can make introductions to support services that are available.
In these current times of uncertainty, we understand that students may feel isolated and unable to contact a member of staff and would like to introduce some trusted resources that can help: The website Young Minds has a blog for young people focused on anxiety around Coronavirus as well as many other topics. The Mix is an excellent site for young people to access support for mental health and well-being. The Anna Freud centre has great advice for young people on dealing with this disrupted period of time. They also have self-care advice for students.
Kooth is a free, online counselling service for young people that provides mental health and wellbeing support via any internet accessible device. Kooth offers young people the opportunity to have a confidential, text-based conversation with a qualified counsellor. Counsellors are available from 12noon until 10pm on weekdays and 6pm to 10pm at weekends, and are accessible every day of the year on a drop-in basis. Young people can access regular booked online counselling sessions as needed. Outside counselling hours' young people can message the team and get support by the next day.
In addition to the counselling service offered by Kooth, there are also articles, forums and discussion boards available to young people, with all content being age appropriate, clinically approved and fully moderated. To find out more, please visit www.kooth.com
Young people may also like to download Think Ninja – an NHS app which uses the principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as a talking therapy which helps manage problems and change the way you think and behave.
The above information is based on support and guidance offered by Young Minds, Mind, the Mental Health Foundation, The Mix and the Anna Freud Centre.
If your child is struggling with their mental health, and the advice above hasn't helped, please feel free to raise a concern with the schools wellbeing and year group teams by clicking here.
Please note, the 'Raising a concern' form should only be used after you have tried the information above and in instances where you are genuinely concerned for the long term impact it is having on your child's health and/or wellbeing.