As a charity that has been working with children, young people and families, as well as education, health and social care professionals for 60 years, we’ve seen and supported thousands of people through the changing tides of mental and emotional health struggles.
What we know is that the mental health of our children and young people is getting worse, not better. Today anxiety is the highest presentation in referrals to our services from children as young as 5 years old right through to early adulthood.
As a charity leader and mum of two boys, I experience anxiety from time to time. It’s normal and a common fact that children, adolescents and adults can feel anxious, worried or fearful some of the time.
Most of the time.
Not at all.
The thing that works for me is to talk through what is worrying me with a person I trust. Making sure I eat, and sleep well help too, as well as connecting with nature through long walks when I can fit them in!
These are my coping mechanisms but for many anxiety can, if experienced constantly, result in more serious mental and physical health problems. Long term anxiety can negatively impact on lives, aspirations and ambitions.
Being a 70’s child there is much reminiscing about the simpler life with memories of family, community, solidarity and support. Of course, life wasn’t perfect back then, but it felt much less complicated than it does today.
Today, all of us are exposed to damaging policies, systems and regimes. Despite technological advances and better connectivity, we can feel more isolated than ever. The constant feed of global news and unrealistic images flowing through social media channels combined with a culture of academic testing mean that, from an early age, there’s pressure to know more, be better, look better and this doesn’t stop. It’s no wonder we’re all getting more anxious.
As we come into another exam season, primary age children are expressing feelings of anxiety and pressure as they prepare for SATs this is a continuing theme for millions of children and young people as they progress through an education system which has a core focus on academic results.
Where is the holistic approach which balances academic achievement with better resilience, better life and better coping skills? One that values emotional intelligence as much as intellect.
For parents and carers who ride the waves of emotion and stress experienced by their children, understandably they feel helpless and isolated so it’s inevitable that anxiety becomes a family challenge…. I know, I’ve been there several times!!
And let’s not forget the pressures faced by those working in health, social care and education including Ruth Perry, a committed and experienced headteacher who experienced intolerable anxiety awaiting her school’s OFSTED rating.
I am the CEO of a fabulous charity in West Yorkshire called Northorpe Hall Child and Family Trust and I can confidently say there are lots of similar organisations across the country who are willing and able to help you.
At Northorpe, our purpose is to provide mental, emotional and wellbeing support to children, young people, families. We also support professionals who work with children and families. We provide advice, tools and coping strategies which help people to get on living their lives in the best way possible.
If you’re struggling to cope with feelings of anxiety, it’s important to understand that you are not alone and there are people you can always speak to.
If you can, talk to someone you trust in the first instance. If that’s not possible, there are many large and small organisations across the country who can help.
If you are looking for some inspiration on how to manage anxiety for you or a loved one, there are some great and simple things on our website that can make a difference.
My final words of wisdom; don’t despair and don’t delay taking that first step to getting help … you only need to take the first step and I guarantee you will feel better for reaching out to help manage any anxieties you might be experiencing so you can start living your life again!!