Mental health problems affect about 1 in 10 children and young people. They include depression, anxiety and conduct disorder, and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives.
Alarmingly, however, 70% of children and young people who experience a mental health problem have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.
The emotional wellbeing of children is just as important as their physical health. Good mental health allows children and young people to develop the resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults.
Things that can help keep children and young people mentally well include:
being in good physical health, eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise
having time and the freedom to play, indoors and outdoors
being part of a family that gets along well most of the time
going to a school that looks after the wellbeing of all its pupils
taking part in local activities for young people.
Other factors are also important, including:
feeling loved, trusted, understood, valued and safe
being interested in life and having opportunities to enjoy themselves
being hopeful and optimistic
being able to learn and having opportunities to succeed
accepting who they are and recognising what they are good at
having a sense of belonging in their family, school and community
feeling they have some control over their own life
having the strength to cope when something is wrong (resilience) and the ability to solve problems.
Most children grow up mentally healthy, but surveys suggest that more children and young people have problems with their mental health today than 30 years ago. That’s probably because of changes in the way we live now and how that affects the experience of growing up.