In the UK alone a staggering 850,000 children and young people suffer from a mental health issue.
More often than not, it is during the childhood and teenage years that mental health is developed and patterns can be set for the future.
Mental health affects cognitive behaviour, social skills and emotional wellbeing, which can have a huge impact in the way we live our lives. As with most medical conditions, early diagnosis and treatment is paramount, but diagnosis can still be difficult, especially in the very young.
In the field of education, individuals are likely to either suffer from some form of mental health disorder themselves or know someone who has, yet attitudes towards these issues are still surrounded by prejudice, fear and ignorance. This makes it harder for sufferers to live a normal life; they may feel isolated, find it hard to maintain friendships or even be able to work. In fact, people’s attitudes towards mental health can sometimes be so negative that it results in individuals refusing to seek help. It’s therefore vital that in order to tackle misconceptions, we must learn more about the issues themselves.
There are many myths surrounding people, both young and old, who have some form of mental health issue, which as a nation we need to challenge! Firstly, 1 in 4 people suffer from varying mental health issues every year – and not just adults. Statistics have shown that 1 in 10 young people suffer from some form of mental health issue too. Furthermore, there seems to be a myth that people with mental health problems are violent and unpredictable, but in fact they are much more likely to be victims of violence and discrimination themselves.
The very nature of the education profession means that teachers come into contact with many different young people, some with complex health needs, on a daily basis. With this in mind, it’s also important for teachers to be aware of some of the challenges that these children face.
Children with Autism can find lunch and break times extremely difficult. During the rest of their school day, they are given a set of rules and timetables to adhere to, but break times are unstructured and can cause severe anxiety. A way to avoid this scenario is by getting the children to play a structured game, which not only helps develop their social skills but reduces their anxiety.
Children with Asperger’s also prefer routine and rules. They can struggle with changes to their lives, even small ones, like changing the order they get dressed in or changes to their class timetable, which can severely affect them emotionally. A better understanding of the change will help ease any anxiety caused. Giving children time to come to terms with the change also helps. Teachers can do this by explaining the reason for the change, calmly, in advance of the situation, as well as providing reassurance and reasoning during the change itself.
By understanding the nature of syndromes and disorders like Autism, Asperger’s and personality disorders both families, and indeed teachers, will be in a better position to support the child, both during and out of school, which can make all the difference as they grow into adults.
Freedom Care, based in Leicestershire, offers specialised, bespoke quality health care services to help improve the lives of adults and children diagnosed with complex health needs, such as Autism, personality disorders, Asperger’s, ADHD and learning disabilities with recognised Autistic traits.
We also provide residents with a comfortable home environment where users are encouraged to build on their individual strengths whilst developing their social awareness and communication skills.
For more information on how Freedom Care can assist families (or teachers!) coping with children with complex health needs please drop us a message here – we’re always happy to help!