We need to raise the alarm on mental health in schools | Emma Kay

For most students, school is a nest of nurturing. It is a place of protection from our sometimes odious outside world. A place where they can decide what kind of adult they want to be moulded into.

By Emma Kay
Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 1:51 pm
Worried mum comforting her depressed teenaged daughter.
Worried mum comforting her depressed teenaged daughter.

But at some point, every child puts down their foot about going to school. We all have to do things we do not want to do and this manifests itself from an early age.

But in some cases, this reluctance borders on the extreme and can affect every aspect of that child's life.

It turns into high-level anxiety and it is something we can become too afraid to ask about or acknowledge.

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Extreme school anxiety is often mislabelled as just a recurring refusal to attend but it runs much deeper than that.

Children with this anxiety will have physical symptoms such as nausea, headaches and stomach pain or anxiety attacks that are so powerful they can shut down a child altogether.

Pupils can be caught unawares by their own mental health needs and may not understand how best to articulate how they are feeling.

Even some of the most together adults still lack this skill. Children are still growing and figuring things out.

They do not need to be faced with unexpected severity of judgment from others for their mental health struggles.

School refusal boils down to self-preservation. This doesn’t mean a child doesn’t want to work towards a future. Also it doesn’t mean they do not think of these things or worry about missing out.

Too often adults think that children are trying to wheedle out of things or are quick to label them as lazy without exploring the real reason for avoidance.

Our government has promised to pledge £1.4bn to help make mental health support more readily available to children who so desperately need it.

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The hard hit of Covid has heavily increased cases of anxiety and school reluctance. The delay and debate about vaccinating children has not helped, with young children being the largest section of the public to be unvaccinated. The need to strengthen awareness between schools and mental health services is paramount.

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Buying clothes which end up as unwanted waste is something we are probably all guilty of.

But what if we could exchange our misguided choices for better ones?

Clothes could be used as currency and a way to help the environment.Attending a clothing swap event at Saint Wilfrid’s church was a refreshing change from the usual browsing process on price tags alone.

It had the added novelty of knowing I was recycling some unwanted garments of my own and taking in something new and entirely different to dapper myself up. Let's make these commonplace events.

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Hands on tin cans, fingers on fresh bread and breathing over the broccoli. Not a squirt of sanitiser or mask in sight.

What will it be like come Halloween when we are fondling every pumpkin pile for the best pumpkin?

At times I feel like a lone warrior wandering into a store and diligently sanitising with my second face firmly in place. No, I'm not bragging.

This is a plea. Just because your trip is short or the store is small doesn’t mean you should leave the mask at home.

Cases will inevitably rise this winter. It is foolhardy to forget your mask habits just because it is not forced.

You gave it plenty of thought before, so why not now? It could save lives.

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