Firstly, I want to be clear, I am not discouraging any type of mental health support you might be offering. All support is valid and necessary and having a counsellor in your school is a great step forward, after all only a few years ago this would not have been something that not so many offered. So, this is great progress BUT there needs to be more.
Schools are under increasing pressure to provide mental health and well-being support and play a key role in turning the terrible statistics around children’s mental health around. As most head teachers and teachers are not trained or practised in this area at all and others have limited experience you can understand that this is a lot to take on. Add to this the fact that they are bombarded by options and companies offering solutions which just confuse them further. It is no surprise they feel confused and stuck, they want to do the right thing and insure they offer the right support but are unsure how. So, they employee a full time counsellor and hope that will fix the problem…….. it won’t.
It will help for sure but there needs to be a more rounded, strategic approach. A sure-fire way to insure not only that the children needing therapy are cared for but there is also a system of education and prevention put in place to insure as many as possible DON’T get to the point of needing therapy.
This is where things are failing. Mental health is STILL not being addressed before the problem is so big it takes months or years to unpick.
There is work being done to help remove the stigma and learn to talk and understand what some mental health challenges are and how to recognise them but there is little around the understanding of emotions and also education on techniques, tools and myth busting therapy options.
Understanding emotions properly is key for young people. The ups, downs and confusion of hormones and life is a lot to deal with and by having a good base knowledge of emotions, what they mean and the difference between them being part of the human experience and pathological will help young people to be able to properly understand themselves and asses a ‘normal’ emotion (good or bad) with one that needs some adjustment.
Prevention and Mild Challenges
This area is hugely overlooked at the moment but will play a key role changing the decade long decline in the mental health of children and young people. Preventative techniques and ones to use for mild ‘every day’ challenges will stop things spiralling out of control in a lot of cases. If a problem occurs, is not addressed and a solution not found feelings of helplessness, insecurity and a lack of control will contribute to things progressing to get more ingrained and worsen any symptoms already felt. By teaching children and young people tools to navigate life challenges (which are inevitable) they will feel impowered to work through these times and a sense of strength and control once they develop through the challenge and back to a more settled space. Life will happen to us all, good and bad, it is how we approach these challenges that will dictate the outcome. We need to start teaching children skills for this.
Other Therapy Options
Counselling, although a brilliant therapy, only actually works for around 47% of people. This means that by only offering counselling as an option 53% will feel unengaged with this and end up feeling like there is no way of them getting help. There are many research based therapies available out there and these should be at least talked about in schools, with an education around what they are, how they work and what the therapy process will look like with different options. This way when students look to access help they have knowledge of what is available and feel comfortable with the process as they have knowledge of the subjects.
If you would like any further help or advice in this area or know a school that might please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org