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Mougins School

The Learning Curve

 Supporting Primary Students’ Mental Health
  • Primary Matters
Jenna Witcombe

Mental Health has been a hot topic of conversation this week in class and among staff as we have acknowledged World Mental Health Day. World Mental Health Day was first celebrated in 1992 and the WorldHealth Organization aims to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world by bringing people together to work on mental health issues, ensuring access to services is available throughout the world.

The role of schools in supporting children’s mental health

Mental health is just as important as physical health, but it can sometimes be overlooked. Mental health problems can affect children of all ages and one of the important roles of a school is to recognise symptoms of mental health in our young children and to support them in school and the wider community. 

Here are some of the ways we support children's mental health in school:

  • Talking to children about their feelings. Letting them know that it's okay to feel sad, angry, scared, or worried. Helping them to identify and label their emotions.
  • Creating a safe and supportive school environment by making sure that children know who they can talk to in school and at home. 
  • Encouraging healthy coping skills. Sharing ways children can manage their stress and emotions in a healthy way. This could include activities such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and spending time in nature.


Common mental health concerns among children

Some of the most common mental health concerns among primary school children could include:

  • Worry and anxiety: Worry and anxiety are normal emotions, but they can become a problem if they are excessive or persistent. Children with worry and anxiety may have difficulty sleeping, concentrating, and enjoying activities. 
  • Friendship issues: Friendship issues are also common among primary school children. Children may have difficulty making friends, keeping friends, or resolving conflicts with friends. Friendship issues can lead to feelings of loneliness, isolation, and sadness.
  • Self-confidence issues: Self-confidence issues can affect children of all ages. Students are going through a lot of changes physically and emotionally, and they may be struggling to find their place in the world. This can lead to feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy, and insecurity.

Just as we do with physical health, it is important to start talking to our children about mental health from a young age. One of the ways we do this in school amongst our youngest students is with books and social stories. One of my personal favourites is the book ‘Ruby Finds a Worry’, a picture book about what to do when a worry won't leave you alone. Other picture books for younger children can be found here as well as novels for older children too. 


Tips for parents

By following the tips above, parents can help their children to develop strong mental health and resilience.

Additional tips

  • Model positive mental health behaviours. Show your children how to cope with stress and difficult emotions in a healthy way. Be honest about your own feelings and setbacks.
  • Encourage your children to be kind to themselves and others. Self-compassion and empathy are important for good mental health.
  • Limit screen time. Too much screen time can be harmful to mental health, especially for children and young people.
  • Promote healthy eating and exercise habits. Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise are important for both physical and mental health.

We hope this article has been helpful. Please remember that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you and your child in achieving the best possible mental health.

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