Children’s Mental Health Week: Learn how to provide emotional and mental health support for young children in your care.
Let’s face it, we’ve all found living and working through the Coronavirus pandemic hard.
Yet the children in our care, those who are perhaps too young to understand the gravity of what is happening, are likely to find it all the harder.
They can’t understand why people are suddenly wearing ‘scary’ facemasks in shops. They don’t appreciate the reasons for us wiping down surfaces more often or restricting the things they touch – or play with – in public spaces. And the things that comfort them, such as having a hug or seeing familiar faces, have sadly been taken away from them.
With the world seeming so scary and unusual to many of our young children, in our early years capacity, we play a key role in helping to bring a sense of fun and happiness back into their daily routine. And showing our children it’s OK to be confused, scared or worried. We’re here to listen and help.
Children’s Mental Health Week 2021
The theme of this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is Express Yourself.
Expressing yourself is about helping children to find ways they can share feelings, thoughts, or ideas, through creativity. This could be through art, music, writing and poetry, dance and drama, photography and film, and doing activities that make them feel good.
Around 1 in 8 children and young people experience behavioural or emotional problems growing up. For some, these will resolve with time, while others will need professional support.
To help encourage the children in your care to express themselves, you could introduce expressive, fun activities which could also help to boost morale amongst the children. This could include asking them to paint a picture that makes them feel happy and asking them to explain what they love about it. Or singing and acting out their favourite nursery rhymes.
It could be anything which enables gives them an opportunity to explore and reflect upon the things that make them happy, which can help restore a little normality to their lives and take their minds off the scary world outside.
Recognising the signs of mental health problems in children
As early years practitioners, we spend a lot of time with the children in our care and are more inclined to notice a difference or change in behaviour. When asking for our children to express themselves, it may be that we notice something that is a little out of the ordinary that concerns us.
There are a few key signs to look for that could suggest a child in your care is having trouble with their mental health:
- significant changes in their behaviour, mood or personality
- seeming more tired than normal, suggesting they’re having an ongoing difficulty sleeping
- withdrawing from social situations
- not wanting to do things they usually like
- harming themselves
Of course, in current circumstances, everyone – including young children – will likely feel a little sad at times. But if you notice these changes in a child lasting for a long time or they’re significantly affecting the child, it might be time to speak to their parent or guardian.
These conversations are never easy, but it’s always best to open up a discussion about a child’s change in behaviour without being accusatory.
Mental health training
At Connect2Care, we’re experts in both early years and mental health training. We offer a range of opportunities for your team to expand their skillset and have a greater understanding of young people’s mental health.
Our Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Children and Young People’s Mental Health will equip learners with a detailed understanding of mental health conditions in children and young people, including depression and anxiety. We have a range of funding opportunities available which means we can fully-fund this training in most cases.
We also offer three levels of First Aid for Mental Health training which will better equip learners to support others in their time of need. As part of these courses, attendees will learn how to spot the signs of mental health problems in others – including young children – and how to signpost the individual or parent to get professional support.
All our trainers have real-world experience of working in the mental health industry, providing an engaging overview of the topic.
To learn more about our courses, or the funding opportunities available, get in touch with Connect2Care through our website today.