The Mental Health Challenges Every Student Faces
Did you know that 1 in 8 children have a diagnosable mental health condition? That’s roughly around three children in every classroom. It may seem like a small number, but when you consider the fact they are still young children who should be enjoying life, it’s scary to consider how their mental health is affecting their happiness.
As a parent, you may not look at your child and consider whether they suffer from a mental health condition like stress, anxiety or even depression. If you aren’t aware of the signs, you may not know what to look for. Depressed children can still be as active and out-going at times as children who don’t suffer from this detrimental condition.
For many children and young adults, their mental health struggles can stem from their education. With pressure to achieve highly, a lack of support inside and outside the school and now Covid-19 disrupting their education further, they have so much to worry over.
So how exactly can your child be impacted negatively during their education? And what can you do as a parent to support their mental health journey as they ease away from anxiety and depression and towards a brighter, happier future?
Pressure on Achievements
Students face a lot of pressure inside and outside of school to achieve well. There is still an emphasis in education on grades and performance, especially in subjects deemed more important than others like English, Mathematics and Science. Although we may understand and see the value in achieving well in other subjects like Art, Business or even Photography, students feel a pressure to excel in a certain way. This leaves them stressed out preparing for assignments and exams and wondering what will happen if they don’t achieve the grades they think they need.
This pressure to achieve, as well as the changes young students are already facing in their lives, can cause them to react with anxiety. Our brain responds to the added stress and confusion by making anxiety a go-to feeling, hardwired inside of us. If students don’t find a way to relieve this stress, the tension can continuously build up and result in increased heart rate, breakdowns and intense feelings of fear. This can have a significant impact on the future adult lives of students too as they continue their education in college and university, and seek out careers.
Lack of Support
Although we have seen hundreds of fantastic teachers, headteachers and support staff on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok, your child may not be encountering these types of people within their school setting. Some teachers are there for the paycheck and not to support the development of the emotional side of your child too. For some, it is about grades and being seen as a ‘good teacher’ whose class is progressing. We can understand this, but for our children, we want teachers who understand that children need emotional, social, physical and intellectual support at this developmental stage.
Your child may also feel like they aren’t getting enough support outside the classroom too. Are you putting too much pressure on them to achieve academically and hindering their development as a child? You may not see it this way, but continually putting pressure on your child to complete homework as soon as possible or get the highest grades can stress them out and cause them to feel anxious. Over time, anxiety can even bring on depression, where your child no longer feels a desire to even go to school anymore.
The New Normal
As if these mental health pressures weren’t enough to knock your child’s confidence and make them depressed or anxious, the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown a whole load of new challenges their way. With the new way of grading exams for this previous summer having potentially affected their entrance to colleges, their outlook on their future could have been shifted. Are they at a different college? Was the stress of these changes too overwhelming? Similarly, if your child is facing the prospect of having their GCSE exams delayed next year, is this something they are happy or concerned about?
Students can also be feeling ashamed or worried because they have had considerable time out of school due to closures and isolation. If they haven’t been given support or work to do during this time, they could be ashamed of their lack of knowledge compared to other students and anxious about returning to the classroom.
Find the Right Support
So what can you do to ensure that your child overcomes these feelings of anxiety or depression and no longer look to their educational future with concern? As a parent, you first need to show your support for their mental health challenges. Rather than pressuring them, be there as an outlet for their stresses. Allow them to talk to you about what is bothering them and listen before providing advice.
However, not all children will want to vent to their parents as they may feel like they will get judged, ignored or shouted at. This isn’t necessarily always the parent’s fault, as it’s a feeling that can be hardwired into them because of the environment they socialise in, the TV they watch and experiences they have witnessed from other children.
Therapy is an excellent alternative for parents looking for expert support for their children. As a therapist, I can ensure that they are in a safe environment to openly share what is causing them to be stressed or depressed. With experience working with children across all ages, as well as an in-depth understanding of child development and what can cause children mental health issues, I have the knowledge to support and advise your child. By developing a relationship with the child where they feel like they can trust me to ‘keep their secrets’ or be the objective listener they need, I can get your child to open up and be honest about their happiness and quality of life.
Please take a look at my website to learn more about my services as a therapist and how I can support the mental health of your child. I understand the changing mental health needs of developing children who can feel pressure in all aspects of life, not just education. With my expert advice, experience and compassionate ear, I can be the person your child trusts enough to open up to accept support.