Winter is here, Halloween and bonfire night have been and gone, so that means only one thing, BBC Children in Need’s annual appeal night is once again upon us! Each year Children in Need serves a reminder to the nation about the number of children and young people who are in desperate need of support. One of the keys focuses for this year is the importance of supporting mental health. The last couple of years have been difficult for us all, but some young people have found it incredibly challenging to navigate through the uncertainty.
The impact of uncertainty
Living through the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in increased feelings of anxiety, fear, and hopelessness within lots of children and young people. It is feared that the continuing uncertainty and instability that many young people may experience, as a result of the cost-of-living crisis alone, is only going to cause more damage to mental wellbeing.
A recent investigation by BBC children in need has found that:
- 91% believe that mental health is the biggest challenge facing young people today
- 93% believe that the situation regarding children experiencing mental health issues is only going to get worse
- 89% expect children will find it more difficult to access mental health support in the coming year
How are BBC Children in Need helping?
Children in need is currently funding 1,308 projects supporting children and young people across the UK with emotional wellbeing and mental health. One of the biggest projects that Children in Need has funded is called ‘A Million and Me’. To mark this project reaching its halfway point of implementation it has released some preliminary findings.
Finding 1: Children need and value positive, rewarding relationships to help them make sense of their own mental wellbeing
Evidence has shown a key risk factor in children’s mental health is a lack of support and loving relationships (Rutter, 2013). The importance of a child feeling supported, loved, and valued is crucial for the development of their emotional wellbeing. Research such as this, only magnifies the importance of showing compassion and empathy to another individual.
Finding 2: Everyday conversations about mental wellbeing equip children to learn about their wellbeing, develop healthy habits, and encourage them to reach out when they need support.
The importance of regular and open conservations about wellbeing and mental health has never been more important. The NHS currently believe that around 1 in 6 six- to sixteen-year-olds in the UK currently have a least one mental health problem. This figure has risen from an estimated 1 in 9 young people in 2017 (NHS Digital, 2021). It also believed that almost half of mental health conditions start by the age of 14 (Kim-Cohen et al, 2004). Research such as these studies highlight the importance of regular and open conservations with children and young people from a young age, in order for them to be fully equipped with the tools to accurately express how they are feeling and also feel comfortable in acknowledging if they need additional support.
How bMindful can help:
The ‘A Million and Me’ report has also released some preliminary recommendations. Our priority at bMindful Psychology is to help young people feel better about their mental health. The Reports recommendations are interlinked with our values and beliefs and what we are trying to achieve and provide as a company.
Recommendation 1: There should be investment in good quality resources and information about children’s mental wellbeing across the spectrum, aimed at both children and adults
We feel that the importance of providing resources and guidance to all aspects of the community is crucial in the development of both the conversations and the understanding of mental health and wellbeing in children and young people. On our website and all social platforms, we have created numerous infographics, blog posts, TikTok’s and podcasts all aiming to inform, support and encourage discussions around supporting young people with their mental health. The importance of both young people and those who are supporting them having easily accessible, evidence-based advice and support is something we believe is of the upmost importance.
Please click the following link to view all our available free resources: Our Media Centre – bMindful psychology
Recommendation 2: There needs to be a provision of training resources for the wider children’s workforce, to increase the capabilities to have good conversation about mental wellbeing.
We believe that a child cannot be properly supported without those around them being well informed. Training is at the heart of our ethos. Developing skills, providing knowledge, and answering any questions a person may have is crucial. If the person who is supporting the young people is not adequately equipped and confident in their knowledge, the child will not receive all the support they need. We offer a comprehensive suite of training courses and workshops around understanding young people and supporting their mental health and wellbeing.
Please click the following link to view our available workshops and courses: Digital Academy Training Hub – bMindful psychology
Our top tips for supporting a young person’s mental health:
BBC Children in Need are promoting five ways to better wellbeing. Here at bMindful, we have provided our own tips and advice in relation to each of these ideas.
Providing a young person with an opportunity to express how they are feeling can validate how a young person is feeling and allow them to recognise that there are people around them that want to help and support them.
2. Get Active
Encouraging a young person to get out in the fresh air has been shown to have significant benefits of an individual’s mental health. This year BBC Children in Need are encouraging people to ‘get walking for children in need’. This campaign focuses on the positives that can come from getting out, taking a walk, and starting a conversation with someone around you.
3. Take Notice
If you recognise that a young person is struggling with their mental health, taking the time to sit with them and acknowledge that ‘this seems to be really difficult for you’ can be the first step in them reaching out for support. Showing empathy is a quality that should never be underestimated. Through saying to a young person ‘I’m here, I know that you’re struggling, and when you’re ready, I am here to support you with this’ you provide a young person with validation and compassion. Another individual recognising how you feel and offering you support can sometimes encourage a young person to seek help with their mental health.
4. Be Curious
Trying out a new skill or doing something that the young person enjoys can provide an opportunity for the young person to see improvements in their mental wellbeing. Activities that can support self-regulation include, colouring, baking, sports, and mindfulness. Finding what works for the young person is crucial, and recognises that what works for you, may not work for someone else.
Giving does not always have to be something financial. Whilst there are many projects supporting young people’s mental health that can benefit from donations such as BBC Children in Need, giving can also include simple acts such as offering your time, listening, showing love and compassion and simply being there for a young person who is experiencing difficulties.
To find out more about any of the topics discussed in this post, get in contact with our team at bMindful who offer a wide range of training and services for supporting children and young people with their mental health.