Children’s Mental Health Week

7th February 2022 - 13th February 2022
This year the theme is "Growing Together". Read on to find out more.

What do we mean by “Growth”?

Growth can take different forms. Physical growth is easy to see as we grow from babies to children, teenagers to adults. We might even experience growth spurts from time to time. Another way that we can grow is emotionally. Things that upset us when we were younger may no longer overwhelm us as we grow and learn to cope with life’s ups and downs. Challenges and set-backs can help us to grow and adapt. Trying new things can help us to move beyond our comfort zone into a new realm of possibility and potential.

Think about a time when you have grown to be able to do something that you couldn’t when you were younger. Don’t just focus on academic, sport and musical achievements but include personal achievements too. This could include things like using public transport, joining a society, taking up a hobby or getting to school independently. It could also mean managing friendships or relationship difficulties, or even managing your emotional well-being. What we might realise is that emotional growth is often a gradual process that happens over time, and sometimes we might feel a bit ‘stuck’. We can even feel like we are sometimes taking a few steps backwards – especially when we come up against a difficulty and feel overwhelmed. However, this is just a signal that reminds us of how much we need others in our lives to help us to keep growing.

Growth during our teenage years/adolescence

Adolescence is actually a time when our brains are growing and changing rapidly – even though we might not always be aware of it. Due to our enhanced ‘neuroplasticity’ (our brain’s ability to modify, change, and adapt throughout our lives and in response to our experiences) we have the opportunity to grow and develop in whatever directions we choose. Sometimes it may feel like we aren’t growing or developing and are “stuck”, but in when in fact we are. Think of a winter landscape where plants appear to be dead or dormant, but in fact are busily growing beneath the surface. With practice, the brain’s neural pathways strengthen, which is why you may find it easy to learn or memorise a TikTok dance or pick up a new football skill. We do this more quickly and easily as teens, than we do at other stages of life. There is so much going on in our brains during adolescence, and it is a really important time and exciting opportunity for growth and development

Growth can be more than developing skills

Growth doesn’t have to be about developing new skills, it could be about making changes that will help us to feel better. These changes could do with switching off and relaxing by turning your phone off at bedtime, setting aside your phone when studying or making an effort to connect face to face with people. The growth come be to practise more empathy with short notes of gratitude, treating everyone with respect or volunteering your time to make a difference. Or can be giving self-care by asking for help when you need it, writing in a journal or diary and prioritising good quality sleep.

Children’s Mental Health Week and what you can do:

There will be activities, assemblies, workshops and lessons happening throughout the week at your school or college. However, what you do outside of your school is equally as important. You can start by researching and learning about the teenage brain. A good place to start may be Nicola Morgan’s book Blame My Brain; The Amazing Teenage Brain Revealed. Take the time to understand just how important the growth that your brain is going through in your teenage years. This is the time you can take control of the person you want to be. Your thoughts, habits and outlook on life can be whatever you want it to be and can quickly become a part of your personality in these important years.

You can find out more information on Mental Health and emotional and personal growth by searching for “Children’s Mental Health Week” or looking at lost of different organisations that can support you such as Anna Freud, Kooth and NSPCC.