Family & Education

We must be aware of children's mental health

School can seem a lonely place but teachers are being trained to deliver mental health first aid


School days are the happiest of your life.” Who hasn’t heard this cliché delivered by a well-meaning parent on a Sunday evening in response to our kvetching?

However one in 10 of our children between the ages of one and 15 is affected by a mental health disorder. A staggering 50 per cent of lifetime cases of mental illness begin by the age of 14. 

The story of childhood has dramatically changed. Our 24/7, information-saturated culture has undoubtedly influenced young people’s lives. The old boundaries between between privacy and public spaces has shifted. Young people have to navigate the rollercoaster of adolescence in full view of this public arena.  

Schools are not just a place of academic study but a safe space where young people can seek help with their personal development. They have counselling services and dedicated and trained staff to support the pastoral needs of students. 

Jami, the mental health service for the Jewish community, works with schools to support young people. It delivers lessons in areas such as how to manage stress, how to look after your wellbeing, mental health awareness and mental health first aid.

Young people need to develop the awareness and skills to look after their mental wellbeing. Knowledge acquired now can be taken through life, helping to navigate periods of stress and uncertainty. 

School staff also need to better understand and recognise mental health issues. Jami’s mental health first aid training gives teachers confidence to do this. The government is funding Mental Health First Aid England to roll out this training and Jami will be the official trainer for the Jewish school community. Jami also runs bespoke training sessions on mental health for both primary and secondary schools.

Jami: 020 8458 2223,

Reluctant Returners:

*We must be diligent when it comes to young people’s mental health — and also take responsibility for our own wellbeing, as parents, teachers and carers. Young people learn from us. We need to show them it is good to talk about mental health and to look after it. As students prepare to move on to university, leaving home and become adults, they must be equipped with the tools to manage their own mental health, so they can transition into the next chapter of their lives and beyond.

*Going back to the school routine after a fun weekend or a long school holiday can fill some children with trepidation. Support your child by ensuring they are prepared in plenty of time. Do not leave homework and bag-filling until Sunday night. 

*Plant seeds over the holidays by speaking to your child in a relaxed tone about the return to school. Ask what they are looking forward to and what they might find a challenge. Acknowledge the challenge, whatever it may be. Try to see the world with their eyes.

*Explain that feeling a bit scared about school is OK and we all feel like this about school, university or work from time to time.

*If anxiety turns into school refusal, seek support from the school and create a strategy together. Professional help may also be necessary, as refusal may have underlying emotional reasons.

*Help children build skills for life: acknowledging anxieties and thinking together about how to manage them through becoming organised, sharing concerns with others and redirecting thoughts by doing something enjoyable. 

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