- What is it that helps to keep young people well and engaged in the learning process?
- What maintains well-being and ensures that anxiety and stress levels are managed effectively?
- What helps and hinders us in this process?
- Who is most at risk of suffering mental health difficulties
Some characteristics associated with a person with good mental health include:
- Things to look forward to
- Sense of what's important in life
- Enjoys life
- Feels affection for others
- Able to deal with crises
- Sense of fun
- Free from pain
- Enough to eat
- Enjoys hobbies/work
- Sleeps well
- Sense of being valued
- Creative and expressive
- Able to learn and succeed
- Feeling of purpose in life
- Dreams and aspirations
In the first instance, identifying those most at risk can perhaps best be done via reference to the risk and resilience factors detailed earlier.
In 2001, the DfE suggested that these 'risk' factors are cumulative. That is, when a young person faces more risk factors than resiliency factors, then significant difficulties are far more likely to develop.
Students who are experiencing higher levels of stress may exhibit the following behaviour:
- More aggressive or withdrawn behaviour
- Feeling tearful
- Eating disorders
- Self-harming behaviours
- School attendance problems
- Attention needing
- Dropping performance
- Heightened aggression
- External stressors
The following factors may also contribute to higher stress levels among the young:
- Family disharmony especially between parents
- Family break-up
- Single parent household
- Abuse – physical, emotional and sexual
- Family financial problems
- New partners for their parents
- Moving home
- Changing school
- Friends moving away
School-based staff can provide support through one-to-one mentoring and
counselling sessions according to individual need, but it's also important
to provide all students with access to a programme of support and self-development.
Such programmes will not be any substitute for individual sessions delivered by appropriately trained clinicians, but will provide a more universal 'preventative' intervention. That is, you intervene before any situation or behaviour escalates.
The Managing Stress Resource Bank (2010) is one such programme. It is a 'universal' and 'preventive' approach designed to support all children inside and outside of the school context, in effectively managing their own stress factors. However, information is also made available to school-based staff/facilitators in terms of knowing when and how to refer on to specialist agencies. A significant feature of the programme is the way in which the students themselves are prompted to develop their own 'self-help' skills while simultaneously being presented with a range of evidence-based processes and strategies.
What is helping and what may be sustaining the problem?