Listen up! Children and young people’s mental health is concerning and they need our full attention
Mental health affects how we think, feel and act; it is literally the backbone of how people are able to function in society. It is therefore incredibly important but is sometimes wrongfully overlooked.
As we enter 2022, people are generally excited for what the year has to hold, but January can typically be quite a hard time of year. People have come down from the Christmas high and have been left with failing new year's resolutions and empty bank accounts.
We want to look at children’s mental health specifically as it is alarmingly poor and has been seriously affected by the pandemic over the past few years. A sixth of children aged 5-16 are likely to experience mental health problems (Children's Mental Health Statistics | The Children's Society). Alarmingly, 75% of children and young adults who experience mental health problems are not getting the help that they need. The most prevalent mental health problems in children and young people are, depression, self-harm, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD and eating disorders. Whilst most children do grow up healthily, the number of those experiencing mental health problems is far higher than it was 30 years ago and it needs addressing.
Dr Alex George, a well respected NHS worker and now UK Youth Mental Health Ambassador within the Department for Education, leveraged his stint on Love Island to help draw attention to the issues surrounding young people’s mental health. In his BBC documentary last year, Dr Alex stressed the importance of early intervention - meaning, children need to get the support they need as young as possible to try and prevent long-term mental illness.
Psychotherapists have actually amassed thousands of followers on TikTok, which, given the prevalence of mental health issues in children and young people, is no real surprise. In fact, the #psychotherapy hashtag currently has 2B views - proving it’s definitely engaged with! It’s kind of comforting knowing that if children and young people aren’t able to talk to their parents / caregivers / friends or go to their GP about their mental health problems, there is some support out there on a platform so popular that most children and young children will be aware of it. (whether the advice they receive on TikTok is any good is for another discussion)
There are also some companies that have focused their efforts to support children with their mental health and we wanted to give them a shout out.
Moshi Monsters have created a sleep and meditation, mindfulness app. It’s been recommended by sleep experts and physicians and 95% of parents surveyed after using the app say it makes bedtimes less stressful.
Headspace, a popular app for adult meditation, has a kids focused meditation app for children aged 3-12. It’s based around getting them to feel calm, sit still and focus their emotions.
Calm also has a kids focused offering with lots of sleep stories and lullabies aimed for kids and teens - their library consists of stories from Peppa Pig, Minions and other huge brands!
All of these apps are geared towards giving young people the benefits of mindfulness from a young age - early intervention as Dr Alex called it.
Not only do we believe kids' mental health is important for people to be aware of and trying to do something about generally, but it’s going to be something that more and more companies are thinking about, and responding and adjusting accordingly. This can mean looking at their current service and identifying where they might be helping / hindering children and young people’s mental health (*cough* Looking at you Instagram *cough*) and also finding a way to modify or create something new with children’s mental health at the forefront of their thinking. Our mantra is kids deserve better and we won’t stop fighting for the cause!