Our first What if…? debate of 2018/19 addressed the provocation What if… we wanted our kids to be happier? We were delighted to be joined by panellists Caroline Hounsell of Mental Health First Aid England; Praveetha Patalay of UCL; Patrick Johnston of Place2Be, and Viv Grant, former head teacher and Director of Integrity Coaching. What emerged from the discussion was just what a trickle down issue children’s mental health is: first in the sense that, for teachers to be able to support young people’s well-being, their own needs to be looked after first; and then there’s the failure of (for the sake of a short-hand) ‘trickle-down’ economics.
The panel were clear that the prevalence of mental health issues has increased markedly over recent decades, and particularly so in the last few years: the IOE’s birth cohort study data show that today’s parents of teenagers have greater levels of mental health difficulties than parents from a decade ago, while a host of studies document the increased levels of reporting among children, and from ever younger ages. As last month’s Nuffield Trust report also shows, reduced stigma may account for some of the rise, but by no means all of it. Nowhere are these pressures felt more strongly than in schools – which are themselves simultaneously caught up in the same dynamics and on the frontline of mediating young people’s (more…)