The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as ‘not simply the absence of disorder but ‘a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community’.
In the UK today:
- One in ten children have a clinically diagnosed mental health disorder before the age of 14 and incidents of self-harming amongst children as young as 8 years old are increasing year on year.
- More than 27,000 children under the age of 11 called the crisis hotline Childline last year, struggling with bullying, challenging family relations and concerns about their own mental and emotional health.
Teachers have the ability to change the trajectory of a child’s life but, in order to build self-confidence and resilience in children, they must have the personal and professional resources to be resilient themselves.
However, we are facing a teacher recruitment and retention crisis in our schools; nearly 50,000 qualified teachers in England left the state sector in 2016 and a third of newly qualified teachers leave teaching within five years. The majority of these departures were due to lack of work-life balance or more serious mental health issues due to the stress of the job.
Authentic transformation will come about when we focus on promoting positive mental health and wellbeing for all pupils, as well as those who educate, support and inspire them.
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