Once again mental health is on the front pages of the papers and it reminded me that our recently concluded radio series, Raising Teens, on BBC Sussex and BBC Surrey has highlighted the positive.
In episode after episode, the teenagers we spoke to showed themselves to be eloquent and possessing the language and knowledge to speak up about mental health. As one listener said of the teens featured in the show: “I love their optimism, their kindness and care.”
As our teen reporter, Lola, put it: “We will become more emotionally intelligent than past generations have ever been because we are able to express ourselves more openly and freely without shame or discouragement from our peers, adults or parents. I think we as a generation will become resilient because we are able to talk about [mental health] and communicate more openly.”
But it’s high time the rest of us caught up. The Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, this week reported on the postcode lottery affecting children most in need. In a scathing report Longfield writes:
“The Prime Minister today called for all teachers to be trained to spot emerging mental health conditions in kids – I don’t think they have that much trouble spotting them; they have trouble finding anyone to treat them. I have called for a long time for a CAMHS professional to be available in every school. Now, on the day we hear that teenagers in Liverpool are being paid £1,000 to stab other kids and the Government publicly recognises that one in ten kids with a social worker lurches in and out of the service for 4-5 years, the PM calls for a twiddle to teacher training?”
This will just be heaping another responsibility on beleaguered teachers – today the OECD have published a report showing that teachers in England have longer working days than anywhere other than Japan. Here’s a thought – why not have teachers focus on what they do best: teach and inspire our children?
This week Action for Children reported on a huge decline in early years’ childcare and support saying that Sure Start centres were closing with a 62% cut in early years’ service spending since 2010. This means that those needing the most help are the least likely to get it, shoring up problems in later years. Couple that with what comes later – namely school stress and the relentless exam focus, it’s a ticking time bomb… We looked at school stress and what teens and parents can do to help in Raising Teens. You can listen to the episode on BBC Sounds.
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