Examining Impacts, Implications and Improvement of Children's Mental Health
There are several factors that contribute to the increased mental health challenges among UK primary school children compared to previous years.
Cuts to specialist support: Funding cuts to specialist support services have resulted in reduced access to mental health resources and interventions in schools. This lack of support can contribute to the development and exacerbation of mental health challenges among students.
Bullying and harassment: Primary school children are experiencing higher levels of bullying and sexual harassment, which can have a significant impact on their mental well-being. These negative experiences can lead to increased anxiety, panic attacks, and depression among young children.
Disruptions caused by the pandemic: The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the daily routines and social environments of primary school children. This disruption to school, home, and social life can have a detrimental effect on mental health and well-being, potentially worsening mental health challenges among children.
Poverty and caregiver mental health: A significant proportion of children in the UK are persistently exposed to poor caregiver mental health and family poverty. The combination of these factors can significantly impact children's mental health and increase the likelihood of mental health challenges.
Unrealistic expectations: The topic of whether the national curriculum expects too much from primary school children is a matter of ongoing debate. While the curriculum sets important educational standards, it is also crucial to consider the mental health implications associated with the workload that children face. Are the national curriculum demands another source of exacerbating mental health challenges?
It is important for policymakers and educational institutions to prioritise mental health support and interventions, allocate sufficient funding, and create safe and supportive environments for primary school children to address these challenges effectively. However, these aren't issues that can be resolved quickly. In fact it's unlikely current school children will see any kind of meaningful policy changes during their time in primary education. Schools are sadly left with the weight of figuring out how to support their pupils with less funding and less external support than ever. So how do we come in?
Studies have shown that physical activity can have positive effects on mental health. This is particularly true for school pupils, who are experiencing more stress, anxiety, and other mental health challenges throughout their education than ever before. Physical activity in school can help to reduce these symptoms and improve overall well-being. In addition, regular exercise has been linked to improved academic performance.
This is why tools like The Outdoor Classroom are valuable, imperative learning platforms for schools. It's not about just adding fun to the curriculum, providing your pupils with opportunities to decrease stress and learn healthy outlets to manage mental health challenges from a young age is now equally as important as learning their curriculum.