It's no secret that the mental health and wellbeing of children and educators all around the world is suffering. Mental health issues are on the rise and research now confirms 1 in 4 adults suffer from mental ill-health every year. Sadly, children are suffering from poor mental health at younger ages and at least one in eight children aged 5 to 19 now has a diagnosable mental health condition.
This manifests itself in emotional disorders such as anxiety, low self-esteem/self-belief, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and low resilience to challenge or failure, increased stress, control through perfectionism, anger, and even self-harm. Some of these you have probably seen in your own schools and they are not limited to teenagers. These disorders are known to have affected children as young as 5 years old.
The challenges brought by Coronavirus mean more than ever, schools need to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of staff, pupils and the wider school community. However, it's important to remember our children are so much stronger and more resilient that they get credit for. For many, the last 12 months of Covid represents a significant proportion of their lives, and with such a rapid adjustment to be made, it's no wonder they struggled.
They shouldn’t be pathologised just for displaying normal reactions to abnormal events. It’s crucial to remain hopeful for our young people and to help them to hope too. To put it simply, if kids keep being told that they are the, “Lost Covid generation”, poor, helpless victims in a “tidal wave” of mental illness, with a mountain to climb to catch up, at some point they are going to believe it.
Having worked as a teacher and leader for the past 15 years, I am passionate about education and believe that Positive Education is the answer that schools are looking for.
Positive Education is an increasingly popular whole-school model that combines traditional educational principles with research-based psychological approaches to promote positive mental health among students and teachers, increase happiness, wellbeing and engagement and reduce the incidence of depression. As a qualified positive psychologist and teacher, I can support you to blend effective positive psychology strategies with your school values to create positive change in your school.
Positive change starts at the top. We need positive school leadership, in which the mental health and wellbeing of teachers is prioritised. Leaders who actively take steps to prevent teacher burnout and who recognise that high-performing, passionate teachers create engaged, motivated and enthusiastic pupils.
An educational revolution is coming and it is needed now more than ever. We need to stand up and say no to the ridiculous 'solutions' being forced on schools by the government.
Children don't need summer school or an extended school day; they don't need 15 hours a week of English and Maths lessons in primary schools. And don't take away the arts, music and other creative curriculum outlets many secondary school pupils need to help manage their worries, fears and joys.
Instead children need to play, be cared for and to re-build their relationships. The structure, routine and clear expectations of school will always be a great start, but ultimately, at every age, young people need the time and space to re-connect and play, be it through sports, societies, playdates or parties. There is a growing bank of evidence that play improves children's social, emotional, physical and creative skills, so why not make it a focus?
Instead of another summer of frantic testing and cramming, let's all have a summer of fun. Doesn't that sound like a school environment children and teachers will thrive in?
Get in touch to find out how my Resilient Schools program and Resilient School Leaders coaching sessions can help your school build resilience, create positive mindsets and improve wellbeing, for staff and pupils.