LETTER: We want parents to be confident in knowing if their child is unhappy

upset boy against a wall ENGEMN00120130225162843
upset boy against a wall ENGEMN00120130225162843

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Your readers may be surprised to learn that a recent Barnardo’s survey has shown that half of all schoolchildren feel sad or anxious every week.

Almost half of children aged from 12 to 16 years old in England feel sad or anxious at least once a week with worries about their future and school being their biggest concerns.

It is deeply worrying that so many children are growing up feeling this way and that these feelings are intensified as they get older.

Nearly half of 12-year-olds in England surveyed (48 per cent) felt this way at least once a week, with only two per cent in this age group saying they never had.

By the age of 16, seven in ten (70 per cent) report feeling sad or anxious at least once a week with nearly a quarter (22 per cent) having negative feelings as much as once a day.

Children cited the main causes of stress as being school (65 per cent), their future (42 per cent), problems at home (31 per cent), being bullied (25 per cent - not including online) and their weight (26 per cent).

The results show the overwhelming majority of 12 to 16-year-olds in England (75 per cent) think it would be helpful if they had a counsellor or another professional at their school to talk to when they’re feeling down and upset.

The polling results also show that children like to speak to a range of people when they are feeling troubled. That calls into question the government’s Mental Health Green Paper proposal to train just one senior lead in each school about mental health.

As the UK’s leading children’s charity, we provided specialised mental health and wellbeing support to 21,100 children, young people, parents and carers last year. And we strongly believe we need to create a culture where everyone has a greater understanding of what keeps children mentally well and when professional help is needed.

We want parents and carers to be confident in recognising if their children are unhappy and teachers and other professionals to be sufficiently trained, adequately resourced and available to support them.

Jonathan Whalley

Barnardo’s South East and Anglia Regional Director