A report published today by the Children’s Society provides additional evidence that young people’s mental health and wellbeing is in “an alarming state of decline”. The charity warns of a trend that stretches back at least ten years and that has been exacerbated over the last 18 months by the Covid pandemic. The Children’s Society highlights two particularly concerning findings in this year’s report, their tenth in all: the number of children identifying school as a source of anxiety and the number worried about their appearance. Both might reasonably be linked with much-discussed characteristics of recent times — the ever-increasing pressure on schools because of performance league tables and the ubiquity of social media in young people’s lives. LBL aims to prepare young people for the challenges of modern life. Children need to learn from an early age about their emotions and how to manage them, much improving their chances of growing up happy, comfortable in themselves and emotionally resilient.
Under the heading ‘Decade of decline’ the Children’s Society website sets out the report’s main findings, including that 7% of 10- to 15-year-olds in the UK, which it estimates to be 306,000 children, are not happy with their lives.
Society is tragically failing our young people. School, friendships and how they feel about the way they look are causing the greatest dissatisfaction in adolescence.from the Children’s Society website
In addition, when asked about their wider worries for the future, 42% of children said that they were very or quite worried about new illnesses/pandemics and 40% said that they were very or quite worried about the environment.
These findings align with feedback from mental health charities and others. In December 2020 we wrote about the work of the young people’s mental health charity Young Minds, who said that demand for the charity’s services has been “higher than ever”. In October 2020 we posted about a report in the British Journal of Psychiatry which stated that anxiety among young people has trebled in the last 20 years.
We also blogged about a report published in January 2021 by the Education Policy Institute and the Prince’s Trust, which recommended that any strategy to improve the mental wellbeing of the population should prioritise interventions at a young age.
We need a curriculum strategy that properly addresses the issue of children’s mental health. Our blogs regularly highlight the benefits to children’s mental health and wellbeing of regular physical exercise, outdoor and nature-based experiences and participation in activities that involve them in positive change.
In addition, we need to empower children by giving them the knowledge and skills to understand and look after themselves. This is what Life-Based Learning aims to do. The Emotions is one of nine life themes, each with equal priority, that form the framework of an LBL curriculum. Children learn from a young age about their emotions and how to manage them, helping them to grow up happy and emotionally resilient, able to create and maintain long-lasting and fulfilling relationships with family, friends, work colleagues and others.
Our Links page is packed with links to online guidance, resources and additional information to support teachers and home-schoolers in delivering a life-based curriculum. Our Changemakers page features individuals whose work and interests tie in with the LBL approach to learning.
Click to read and/or download the official summary of the report
Click to go to the Links area of the LBL website
Click to go to the Changemakers area of the LBL website
Image at the head of this article by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay.