Covid-19 and child trauma: What role should schools be playing?

Under the title ‘Every Mind Matters‘ the NHS has issued advice to parents on looking after a child or young person’s mental health.

Imagine the scenarios: an elderly relative has Covid, or has died from Covid; grandparents are socially isolating and not available to look after the children; there is no break in the monotony; one or both parents have lost their jobs; the child is witness to an increase in disharmony in the home; the child is sent home from school to social isolate due to a Covid outbreak in school and can’t be looked after; parents are visiting food banks and falling into debt; rent is in arrears and cold winter is around the corner.

Even before Covid, a quarter of children were showing signs of mental ill-health [according to a Public Health England report] and three quarters of adults separately reported they found it hard to cope at some point in the year.

What does the school do?

The brutal answer is: schools are not set up to provide the emotional learning pupils need to manage the stress, anxiety and even mental ill-health they will encounter in their lives.

The long term objective of life-based learning is to make emotional development a theme all to itself, one of only nine life-based themes — such is its importance.

Through life-based learning, children learn emotional resilience by developing self-awareness, emotional self-regulation and feelings of self-worth as a central learning objective.

We are talking serious focus on what is a serious problem for individuals and society.

In the meantime, I hope schools find whatever resources they need, and teachers give whatever time they can, to support the children in their charge through these unprecedented times.

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