Last week, my social media feeds were filled with posts about Children’s Mental Health Week, seven days to raise awareness of importance of young people’s mental and emotional wellbeing with online communities offering support and sharing how they are taking action.

For 2020, the theme was ‘Find Your Brave’. Fortis is a Latin word meaning strong and brave, and that is exactly what we believe all people to be when they are taking the steps to better their mental health.

It takes bravery to share thoughts, feelings and behaviours, particularly for children who perhaps do not have the words to start the conversation. As parents, carers, teachers, and people who have children in our lives, we can all help young people to find their brave and remain courageous, supporting them as they learn to recognise their feelings and gain the confidence to ask for help whenever it may be needed.

Place2Be, the children’s mental health charity who organise Children’s Mental Health Week, have found that:

  • 56% of children say they worry ‘all the time’ about something
  • 3 children in every class have a diagnosable mental health problem
  • 50% of those with lifetime mental health problems first experience symptoms by the age of 14
  • Among teenagers, rates of depression and anxiety have increased by 70% in the past 25 years

This is why early intervention is so important, to ensure that children have the techniques to help them to better understand their mental health, recognising triggers and behaviours, and the tools to help them to manage.

I am so proud of the work Fortis has been doing in schools in the Lincolnshire and Yorkshire areas.  School teams have been working closely with our therapists and counsellors to embed a whole-school wellbeing strategy, providing training and workshops to help teachers and staff to recognise signs and behaviours of mental health problems. They have created safe spaces and nurture rooms, use the services of therapy dogs, make mindfulness a part of the school day, and take school trips to broaden their horizons. By offering therapy to teachers and parents as well as to school children, we can support the adults as they offer support to their children, too.

Use Children’s Mental Health Week as an opportunity to look at the statistics and raise awareness with the goal to put real actions in place in the weeks and months ahead, establishing a long-term support system so that children know that when they’re ready to be brave, they can be.

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