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Do you work with young people?

Working with children and young people can be rewarding and fulfilling, but it can also be difficult. It's not always easy to know what to do when you are worried about their mental health. 

Across the UK, an estimated five children in every classroom has a mental health problem (Young Minds).

We want all children and young people to feel they can speak up when they are struggling to cope and we want to encourage conversations about mental health and help children realise that it is ok to get support.

Supporting a Child with Anxiety

What is anxiety?

  • Anxiety is a normal emotion. It helps us cope with difficult, challenging or dangerous situations.
  • Anxiety is common. There are times when we all feel worried, anxious, restless or stressed.
  • Anxiety becomes a problem when it stops a child from enjoying things they like to do, starts to affect their school, work, family relationships, friendships or social life.

 

Anxious feelings

When we become anxious our body prepares itself for some form of physical action, often called the “flight or fight” reaction. As the body prepares itself we may notice a number of physical changes such as:

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Tight chest.
  • Dizziness or light-headedness.
  • Palpitations.
  • Muscle pain, especially head and neck pain.
  • Wanting to go to the toilet.
  • Shakiness.
  • Sweating.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Butterflies or feeling sick.

Often there is a reason for feeling anxious such as:

  • Facing a difficult exam.
  • Saying something to someone they may not like.
  • Having to go somewhere new or do something scary.

Sometimes there may not be an obvious reason for feeling anxious. Anxiety can be caused by the way we think about things.

 

What is self-help guided CBT?

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is based on the idea that how we feel and what we do are due to the way we think. CBT is one of the most effective ways of helping children with anxiety problems.

CBT assumes that a lot of anxiety problems are related to the way we think. Because we can change the way we think, we can learn to control our anxious feelings.

  • Thinking in more positive ways can help us feel good.
  • Thinking in more negative ways may make us feel fearful, tense, sad, angry or uncomfortable

Teaching children to understand their thoughts is important. Children with anxiety tend to:

  • Think in negative and critical ways.
  • Overestimate the likelihood of bad things happening.
  • Focus on things that go wrong.
  • Underestimate their ability to cope.
  • Expect to be unsuccessful.

Self-help guided CBT is a practical and fun way of helping children to:

  • Identify these negative ways of thinking.
  • Discover the link between what they think, how they feel and what they do.
  • Check out the evidence for their thoughts.
  • Develop new skills to cope with their anxiety.

Supporting a Child with Low Mood

Everyone feels low or down from time to time. It does not always mean something is wrong. Feeling low is common after distressing events or major life changes, but sometimes periods of low mood happen for no obvious reason.

You may find a child is feeling tired, lacking confidence, frustrated, angry and worried. A low mood will often pass after a couple of days or weeks and there are some easy things you can try and small changes you can make that will usually help improve a child’s mood.

 

Signs of low mood

  • Sad
  • Worried, anxious or panicked
  • Tired
  • A lack of self-confidence
  • Frustrated or irritated
  • Angry
  • Not interested in things
  • Withdrawing from usual activities, particularly ones that a child used to enjoy or value
  • Having trouble sleeping

 

Tips for talking to a child about their mood

  • Think about what you want to say and keep it simple
  • Write down things that are concerning you before you speak to them
  • Ask open ended questions which will allow them to say how they are feeling
  • Choose statements that are facts not judgements
  • Be calm and supportive
  • Consider speaking to the school mental health lead

Supporting anti-bullying

Bullying can have long-lasting effects on children and young people’s mental health, and the effects may be cyclical. Young people who have experienced bullying are more likely to experience mental health issues, and those who have mental health issues are more likely to be bullied.

While it’s vital that the whole school community takes an active anti-bullying stance all year round, Anti-Bullying Week provides a good opportunity to emphasise that stance to pupils, parents and carers and staff.

Mentally Healthy Schools have created a toolkit, that shares anti-bullying resources for pupils including lesson plans and videos, as well as information for school staff to help review anti-bullying policies and procedures.

 

You're invited to take part in 'The Great Big Lunch Break'! To support the new Children's Mental Health Services website launch on 11th November and the further expansion of the Wellbeing and Emotional Support Teams in Schools across Herefordshire and Worcestershire, we are launching a new campaign called 'The Great Big Lunch Break'. Find out more by visiting the campaign page