I recently read an article in The Independent entitled “Head teachers say mental health issues among children are a growing problem in schools”
The article explains that these results annual results, published by an organisation called The Key, a national information service for schools, showed a 53% increase (from 14% to 67%) in the number of head teachers seriously concerned about the mental wellbeing of their students. That increase is in just one year!
I was not shocked by this information, although I was pretty disappointed. As an NLP child therapist, specialising in anxiety, bullying and issues which negatively impact confidence, I work with schools, children and parents in Berkshire and I hear these comments a lot.
Even though I’ve had the pleasure of working with some schools in Bracknell, Maidenhead, Ascot and Windsor, there are so many more schools whose pupils would benefit from the support I provide, yet they are not buying in. Why?
The primary reason, it seems, is teachers and head teachers don’t have the time to look into and support these activities for their pupils (until it is really critical) because they have to focus on meeting busy working on curriculum targets. It is all well and good making sure that our next generation can add, subtract and know their verbs from their adverbs but what if their significant lack of confidence or high levels of anxiety prevents them from using these skills.
Targets are being set higher and higher, the number of exams children are expected to sit is increasing year on year and the age by which children start sitting exams is getting younger and younger. All of this is contributing to the levels of anxiety in our youngsters.
Earlier this year, I met with a 9 year old girl in my practice in Binfield, Berkshire. She was preparing to take her SATS at the end of the year. TJ was 6 months away from her SATS and she was already having sleepless nights, bed wetting and refusing to go to school. A place she had felt secure and happy for a number of years was now the cause of her nightmares. Her parents were distraught when I first met them. They were concerned that nothing could be done to help their daughter. We worked together for a few weeks (one of the advantages of NLP is that the processes allow you to reach your desired results quickly), and she went away a confident and happy child. I have since found out that TJ’s SATS went really well, in fact her mum said:
“she really enjoyed sitting them and she passed on some of the tips you gave her to some of her more nervous friends”.
It’s fantastic that this young girl was able to pass on the techniques and help more children, can you imagine the positive implications if the school had felt able to include the work I did with TJ for all the children and much earlier in the year.
I work alongside a number of other NLP4Kids therapists, qualified and experienced in teaching and using NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) with children. We all advertise to schools as well as privately, yet we are only just scratching the surface on the number of schools taking up our programmes for children. When over half the head teachers in this country are concerned about the mental health of their children and timely, cost effective and long lasting support is being offered, why is it not being given more consideration? Do we need to set targets in mental wellbeing and emotional intelligence for this to be taken more seriously?
Catherine Roche, chief executive of the children’s mental health charity Place2Be, said:
“From our direct experience, there is no doubt that when pupils receive expert emotional support, they are better able to concentrate and achieve and overall disruption in the classroom is reduced, which benefits everyone.”
So, my appeal is to the 67% of head teachers concerned about the mental health of your pupils, take the time to investigate what we can do. This small investment will make a significant impact and provide long lasting skills to your pupils. To all the parents who have read this article and are concerned about the mental wellbeing of their children, tell your head teachers about support we offer or contact me directly to discuss how we can work together. We all have a responsibility to help our children and young adults become the best version of themselves they can be.
Debbie Kinghorn is the author of The Feelings Basket series, the founder of Emotions in Motion and an NLP4Kids practitioner.
For more information on how she can help you, your child or the pupils in your school contact: DebbieK@nlp4kids.org