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Children’s Mental Health Week 2019: 5 ways you can support a young person’s wellbeing

Girl sitting on library floor reading a book

Children who sleep less are more likely to struggle with worries, according to research by children’s mental health charity Place2Be.

Getting less than the recommended 9 hours sleep on a school night means children and young people are more likely to feel that worries get in the way of school work (32% vs 22%), according to a survey of more than 1,100 10- to 11 year-olds and 13 to 15 year-olds.

 

The same report also notes that more than half (56%) of respondents say they worry “all the time” about at least one thing to do with school or home life or themselves.

 

Children’s Mental Health Week takes place between February 4-10. Here are several things you can do to support a young person who might be feeling under pressure.

 

  1. Start a conversation – Sometimes a parent is too involved to be helpful, but another adult might be better placed to talk about the problems. You can’t solve their worries, but offering a different perspective can help them come to a decision themselves. 
  2. Promote healthy living – Getting the right amount of sleep and eating all the food groups is good for physical and mental health. This is especially true when children are still growing and developing.
  3. Allow downtime – With the pressures children are under from exams and social media, it is really important to allow some quiet time away from electronic devices. This could include walking a dog or reading a book.
  4. Keep active – It is essential we get outside to get some vitamin D, but it’s also important we relieve some of the stress. What they do isn’t important, but activities like dancing, football or badminton all allow for endorphins to be released and trigger positive feelings throughout the body.
  5. Support self-belief – Doubt will stop a young person in their tracks. They may think the worst will happen, but that doesn’t mean it will. Encourage them to ignore the little voice in their head and take on the challenge with your full support.

Brenda Hunt is a Curriculum Development Manager here at Havering Adult College. She delivers our Mental Health First Aid training to organisations and individuals across London and Essex.

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