Three in five young people have experienced a mental health problem or are close to someone who has

Data comes from a survey of over 12,000 young people aged between 11 and 19 carried out by the mental health charity Mind

Three in five young people (59 per cent) have either experienced a mental health problem themselves, or are close to someone who has, according to major new research by Mind that shows the sheer scale of the pressures faced by young people.

The survey from the mental health charity also shows that one in seven (14 per cent) young people say their mental health is currently poor or very poor and outlines the breadth of the challenges they face. It also highlights how secondary schools are promoting and supporting their wellbeing.

When it comes to accessing support within school, there were problems with knowing where to go, and then getting the right kind of help. Mind’s survey also found:

  • Almost two in five (38 per cent) of all pupils said they wouldn’t know where to go to access support within school and half (52 per cent) said they wouldn’t feel confident approaching teachers or other school staff if they needed help.
  • Around one in five young people (21 per cent) had accessed support for their mental health within school. Of these, almost one in two (43 per cent) said they didn’t find the support helpful and two in three (63 per cent) said they weren’t involved in decisions made about that support.

In terms of receiving help outside the school gates, less than one in three pupils (28 per cent) who had experienced a mental health problem had used mental health services. This means a huge gap in the numbers of young people needing help and those actually accessing support from the NHS.

Louise Clarkson, Head of Children and Young People at Mind, said:

“We spoke to thousands of young people to try to better understand the scale of poor mental health across secondary schools in England and Wales. There were some really positive findings, with most pupils saying that, on the whole, they thought their schools believed good mental health was important and promoted wellbeing. But we also heard from many young people experiencing problems with their mental health. Despite the high levels of poor mental health among young people, many are not accessing support and those that are aren’t always getting what they need.

“Young people want help for their mental health but their needs aren’t currently being met. It’s not schools at fault – we know they are under increasing pressure to provide wellbeing support for pupils at a time of rising demand and gaps in NHS mental health services. We know that many are doing the best job they can with limited resources and staff need the right expertise and support from other parts of the system. The Prime Minister’s recent announcement about training for teachers is welcome but it’s only one part of the picture – school staff need to know that if they are starting conversations about mental health with a young person, there are services in place to refer them onto.

“It’s time for a fresh approach to supporting young people and equipping them to look after their mental health. With so many young people affected, and knowing that most mental health problems start in childhood, this is rapidly becoming one of the major challenges our society faces. We need to listen to what young people are telling us and be guided by them when designing services and support.”

Salma Sanchez, 15, pupil at Ribblesdale School, said:

“There are many stressful parts of being a teenager today. So much can affect our wellbeing: exams, home life, cyberbullying, and the pressures of social media are just a few examples. I’ve found that not many people want to talk about mental health, and this needs to change.

“In my opinion I believe that the greatest pressure and stress being faced by young people today is social media. Social media is a very powerful platform, and spending time on it can be positive, but it has also created some issues. Spending a lot of time on Instagram means that some teenagers feel they have to look a certain way, and compare themselves to other people. These issues can lead to teenagers having low self-esteem and not feeling good enough about themselves, and that can contribute to mental health problems.

“There’s lots that teenagers like me can do to improve their wellbeing. At my school we recently held a ‘De-Stresstival’. Throughout the day we had obstacle courses, glitter paint, a place where you could relax and talk to someone and – one of the favourite activities – we had dogs brought in to play with.

“It’s so important that any young person with a mental health problem knows where they can get support – whether that’s from a parent, doctor, school, or a service like a local Mind. Seeking help can mean you can start to recover, and enjoy life again.”

A separate survey by Mind of more than 1,500 school staff revealed that almost three in four (71 per cent) felt confident that pupils who needed it were being adequately supported. However, around one in two (52 per cent) feel that they do not have enough information to support pupils with poor mental health. Outside of school, staff were aware of other support but less than half (26 per cent) were confident that they would be able to help pupils to access it.

Chris Major, Assistant Headteacher at South Hunsley School, said:

“It’s worrying as a teacher to see how many young people say they’re having problems with their mental health right now. While it’s positive that so many young people feel empowered to talk about their mental wellbeing, we really need to look at why so many of them are struggling. 

“As a school, it’s clear to us that over the past few years there’s been an increasing demand for more mental health support for pupils as they cope with pressures of modern life. Young people face multiple pressures academically – like revising for exams  – which we know can really impact their stress levels. In addition, we’re seeing more and more young people struggle with appearance pressures, and feel the need to showcase a ‘perfect’ life on social media.

“We’ve chosen to increase our provision in schools to meet this demand. Things that have worked well for our school have included running CBT workshops for parents, which over 100 attended, and appointing wellbeing champions among our students who promote positive mental health and help create a culture of openness and we will be doing the same for staff. It’s so important that whole schools work together: students, staff and parents all contributing to achieve a sustained improvement.

“Our school community now has greater confidence to talk about mental wellbeing and that helps to lets people know that they are not alone.”

The surveys were carried out as part of a pilot project in 17 secondary schools in England and Wales. Funded by The BRIT Trust and WHSmith, Mind has been working with secondary schools since September to pilot a new approach to improving the mental health of the whole school community, including pupils, all school staff and parents.

Mental health information for young people is available for free from Mind’s website (mind.org.uk). Mind is inviting young people from England and Wales to share their views and help better understand the barriers they face to accessing support and what some potential solutions might be. Anyone interested in taking part should visit mind.org.uk/cypsurvey.

UNITED FOR BOYS CHARTER AIMS TO CHANGE GLOBAL CONVERSATION ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE

Family For Every Child calls on education organisations across the globe to sign up

Schools and other education providers are being invited to sign up to an international charter which aims to change the way societies tackle sexual violence affecting young males. 

It is estimated that 1 in 6 boys worldwide experiences sexual abuse. And whilst girls continue to be the gender principally affected by sexual violence (estimated at 1 in 4), the abuse suffered by boys can fall under the radar (Caring For Boys Affected By Sexual Violence, 2018).

On becoming a signatory to United For Boys, organisations will be able to access tailored support and guidance from the charter’s founding charity Family For Every Child – a member-led network of local children’s organisations from around the world.

Charter signatories will also be encouraged to publicly demonstrate their commitment to tackling sexual violence affecting boys by displaying the campaign badge.

Family For Every Child’sscoping study Caring for Boys Affected by Sexual Violence (2018), found that boys are less likely to report abuse, are less likely to be believed when they do, and are more likely to be seen ascomplicit in the act or even as the perpetrator.

Support services – where they exist – are targeted at and organised around the needs of girls, with counsellors and support workersoften ill-equipped to engage with boys.

The study produced a list of recommendations that are based on evidence and can be tailored to local contexts. These include the need for more gender-inclusive recovery services, effective sex education, revised laws, and changes to the cultural and social norms around gender and sexual violence.

Amanda Griffith, CEO, Family For Every Child, said: “All around the world, millions of children – girls and boys alike – are affected by sexual abuse, exploitation and harmful behaviours. All children deserve a childhood free of these threats.

“Socio-cultural norms related to childhood, gender, masculinity and sexuality perpetuate sexual violence affecting boys, increase the vulnerability of boys to sexual violence, and contribute to under reporting.

“Our United For Boys charter combines public awareness-raising with systemic change. It calls on everybody – women and girls, men and boys, professionals and the public, young and old – to be a part of building a brighter future for boys, and for everyone.

“We believe that the best way to achieve these changes is by engaging professionals, from teachers and school support staff to GPs and social workers, who can work in new ways to improve the system for children worldwide”.

The United For Boys charter calls for six evidence-based principles to better support boys. These are:

  1. Raising awareness of sexual violence affecting boys amongst professionals who work with children, leading to the development of organisational strategies for building staff knowledge and skills so they feel informed and equipped to provide support.
  1. Ensuring that all services that can support boys are designed and managed in ways that make them feel included, accepted and welcome.
  1. Providing easily accessible, appropriate and high quality information to help educate children and families on sex, sexual health, sexuality and internet safety; and ensuring that this includes information relating to sexual violence affecting boys.
  1. Advocating for changes in the law that could ensure that boys affected by sexual violence are better protected and supported, and that victims are not criminalised.
  1. Changing the conversation around our culturally-embedded and harmful social norms around gender.
  1. Challenging damaging narratives around sexual violence affecting boys, including in the media; and offering support on how to better frame the issue.

Family for Every Child is a global alliance of local civil society organisations working together to improve the lives of vulnerable children around the world. It has 36 member organisations in 35 countries.

More information about the Charter and the support offered to signatory organisations 

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Joe Wicks, The Body Coach, announced as BBC Children in Need’s first ever Schools Ambassador

Today (Monday 1 July 2019), BBC Children in Need has announced that Joe Wicks has been appointed as the charity’s first ever Schools Ambassador.  Joe Wicks has teamed up with the charity and its Official Education Partner Twinkl to inspire and empower thousands of schoolchildren to get fundraising for BBC Children in Need’s 2019 Appeal, whilst getting active and feeling good.  

In addition to inspiring children to fundraise for the charity, Joe’s ambassadorial role will see him reprise his hugely popular Schools Tour programme to support the charity’s fundraising efforts.  Ahead of BBC Children in Need’s 2019 Appeal ten lucky UK schools will receive a visit from Joe, where he will run a fun-filled mini workout session designed specifically for students and teachers.  Schools simply need to register for a free fundraising kit before the end of September to be in with a chance of receiving a visit from The Body Coach himself.

The tour’s crescendo will see Joe undertake a live workout on Appeal day 2019 – Friday 15 November. The Big Morning Move’ workout will be live-streamed to schools up and down the country with school children being encouraged and empowered to have fun and get active whilst raising money for the charity.

Joe Wicks commented on his new role, saying: “I am incredibly proud to be BBC Children in Need’s first ever School’s Ambassador, it really is an honour.” 

“As a Dad, I am passionate about children’s health, wellbeing and happiness and hope that by inspiring children to get together, and get active, we can make a real and lasting impact. 

“There is something amazing about children coming together to help other children, and I can’t wait to kick things off and see schoolchildren up and down the UK once again go the extra mile to make a difference!”

Simon Antrobus, Chief Executive at BBC Children in Need said of Joe’s appointment: “We are absolutely delighted that Joe has come on board as our Schools Ambassador. Joe’s commitment to transforming the lives of UK children for the better is remarkable, and we are certain that with Joe’s support this year, we will be able to make even more of an impact on young lives.”

To help make it easier than ever for schools to get involved, BBC Children in Need have teamed up with Twinkl Educational Publishing, their Official Education Partner, to produce fitness and wellbeing based resources. From healthy bakes to mindful arts and crafts these new materials will be part of a range of curriculum-based fundraising resources that will empower children across the UK to get together to make a difference.

The free resources will be available to download from the BBC Children in Need schools website and Twinkl’s website, for educators and schools to use from September onwards.

Jonathan Seaton, Co-founder and CEO of Twinkl said: “We are so proud to be working with BBC Children in Need and Joe to support schools across the UK to take part in healthy and fun activities and raise money. We’re creating some really exciting materials to support this and can’t wait to see schools in action.”