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How to Combat Mental Health Issues in Primary Aged Children.

Recently the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge along side Prince Harry, have been in the news to promote awareness around the issue of mental health. So much more needs to be done in this area, but vitally this awareness around mental health issues needs to start from an early age.

It seems impossible to think that children as young as 5 have been reported as suffering from mental health issues. When imagining a child, one is met with images of someone free from worry, someone who can enjoy the simple pleasures of life; enthralled by the magic of a puddle, fascinated by myths and legends in their story books. However, ten percent of children and young people aged 5- 16 have a clinically diagnosed mental health issue. (Green,H., Mcginnity, A., Meltzer, Ford, T., Goodman,R. 2005 Mental Health of Children and Young People in Great Britain: 2004. Office for National Statistics.)

Shockingly, these figures are on the rise since this study ,13 years ago, and many teachers feel the increase in reported cases directly correlate to the new demands and pressures of a society obsessed with testing. So what ,as parents and teachers, can we do to help combat these issues in a world which places so much emphasis on results?

The answer is to teach resilience.

“Resilience is the ability to ‘bounce back from adversity’ in order to lead a healthy and fulfilling life. The strengthening of social competencies, emotional intelligence and resilience in young people is associated with the prevention of substance abuse, bullying, violence and suicide.” 

While some mental health issues require a more clinical approach to correct an imbalance, such is the case with chronic depression, many can start the journey towards good mental health by teaching children how to be resilient.

It has become so important now to develop in children, not just good IQ’s but develop their EQ’s and promote emotional intelligence to normalise instead of personalise stressful events.

We must find the time to allow children to practice mindfulness and positive thinking and use humour to develop a sense of purpose. We need to teach them how to plan ahead and reach their goals by seeing failure as opportunities to learn, rather than an impediment to their futures. We need to help children overcome their fears of failing.

Reading emotions then becomes key for educational practitioners and parents to master by providing children with opportunities to recognise and manage their own emotions and develop skills for reading and responding empathetically to others’ emotions, as we strive to instill in children, the tools of how and when to seek help.

In line with supporting the development of good mental health, A-lined Tutors offer parents and children goal setting and art through mindfulness sessions, which merge the relaxing properties of mark making with clear targets for successful growth, painting a picture of the individual as a whole, with their strengths and weaknesses fleshed out in a supportive and collaborative environment.

If you would like to book your child in for an art through mindfulness session with Alinedtutors please email: alinedtutors@gmail.com

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