“A person’s a person, no matter how small”. Dr. Seuss
In an online group, a parent posed the question about how unhappy their child is at school and the battle she has to get him there. She reflected upon the respect, love, care and nurture we provide in abundance in the EY but how and why that it is all stripped away as a child progresses through school?
She is not alone in having a child who is unhappy and feeling overwhelmed with a formal school environment. Many blame the pressures of such formal approaches to teaching and education, that is focused on test results and data. Perhaps it’s no surprise that more than ever parents are choosing to home school, defer starting school places and choose alternative educational settings such as forest schools.
I know teenagers close to me that are experiencing mental ill health such as low mood, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and self harm. The publication of today’s Young Minds report highlights teenagers not being listened to and the impact of waiting for support on their mental health.
It’s desperately sad that the impact of such underfunding in health services, is at the cost and detriment of a young persons health and will have a life long lasting consequence. That’s more than sad, it’s tragic and what’s more in most cases it is entirely preventable.
However, there is something that we can do that doesn’t cost any money. Something we can all do now. Respect. Respecting children and young people, how they feel and not dismissing them as hormonal, rude, attention seeking or lazy. From respect comes listening and from listening comes empathy. That’s how we can support our future generation and safeguard their health.
It’s made me consider that, no wonder as adults we struggle to talk about our feelings and emotional wellbeing because as teenagers we go through a long period of time being shown our feelings don’t count. The saying young people should be seen and not heard still rings true. It’s time we change the story, change the way we think, feel and talk about mental health and most importantly do that with respect.