It’s hard to believe that it’s that time already, but the half-term break is almost upon us. Autumn is an important period for anyone with an interest in the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children and young people. Once the long summer holidays have ended for another year, familiar anxieties tend to return. Going back to school is often fraught with problems.
In recent weeks those seeking our advice are once again on the increase. Referrals are on the up and the problems presenting, whilst all different, are often rooted in similar issues. Issues such as social anxiety, low self-esteem, an increasing pressure to perform and bullying.
Sometimes these things sort themselves out. But more often than not, consulting a professional is an invaluable exercise. Parents might not have seen these things before, but we have. We know that going back to school can prove problematic and we understand the issues. We’re here to help, be it diagnosing a mental illness, or simply providing the appropriate reassurance, guidance and support. We can share our expertise and our experience and, if required, we can liaise with other professionals in order to minimise the difficulties being experienced.
These difficulties come in all forms, but the underlying issues are common. It could be bullying – either in its traditional form or, increasingly, online. It could be performance-related, with the academic demands from teachers and schools often causing stress that can trouble students of all abilities. It could be peer pressure, attentional difficulties or behavioural problems in the classroom. To get to the root of the problem is crucial, which is where our experience comes to the fore.
We know that children don’t always like change, and that the back-to-school period can involve transitions that prove troublesome. It might be the transition from the holidays (a safe time, with less demands and lower expectations) to a rigid school timetable. Quite often, moving from Primary education (a small-scale, nurturing and adaptive environment) to Secondary (where a young person encounters greater expectations and increased autonomy) proves more challenging than parents expect.
Earlier this week, the results of a study conducted at University College London concluded that children and young people who have never had a regular bedtime routine can often have behavioural problems, including hyperactivity, social issues and emotional difficulties. It has long been our opinion that such things can be linked with sleeping patterns. Young people are tired at this time of the year. It doesn’t help.
Children are under greater pressure, on countless fronts, than ever before and it’s important that as adults, as parents and as professionals, we take the time to recognise the signs and address the issues.
This is what we’re here for. To help, guide and support. To lend our expertise.
This is a difficult time for young people. Let’s do something about it.