February Mental Health News Round Up

Social media firms ‘failing’ to tackle cyberbullying

An inquiry set up by Alex Chalk, MP for Cheltenham, the Children’s Society and YoungMinds has found that social media companies are failing to protect children and young people from cyberbullying, and consequently risking their mental health.

Sarah Brennan, our Chief Executive, says:

“With so much of young people’s everyday lives involving the online world, it’s crucial that it is a place that young people can feel safe and enjoy being part of. We need to see platforms creating age-appropriate content for younger users, as well as parents and teachers speaking to young people early about how to respond positively to the online world, and what to do if they come across upsetting content.”

But most of all, this inquiry has shown loud and clear that it’s time social media companies sit up and take action to tackle cyberbullying and promote good mental health on their platforms.
Sarah Brennan, Chief Executive

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For more information, read our report on the Cyberbullying Inquiry.

Childhood trauma must be a public health priority

Our new book, ‘Addressing Adversity’ outlines how children who have faced traumatic experiences are often misunderstood and as a result don’t receive the support they need.

Dr Marc Bush, our Chief Policy Advisor, says:

Children who grow up in difficult and complex circumstances are the most likely to develop mental health problems, more likely to become suicidal, and more likely to die young.
Dr Marc Bush, Chief Policy Advisor

“This simply isn’t acceptable, and if it’s not addressed, it will create an ongoing cycle of trauma. If the government is serious about tackling the mental health crisis, it must make sure that support is available to those who need it most.”

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For more information on the impact of trauma and adversity on children’s mental health, check out our Addressing Adversity Book.

Schools scrap PE time because of exam pressure

A poll by Youth Sport Trust has found that many teachers are cutting on PE lessons and using the time for extra exam tutoring. Almost one in four teachers said they had dropped PE within the past year, and one in three gave exam pressure as the reason. Mental health experts are concerned that cutting down on exercise can exacerbate children’s mental health problems.

Tom Madders, our Director of Communications & Campaigns, says:
“Seeing schools cut down on physical education because of exam pressures is worrying, and further shows that the education system is fundamentally unbalanced, with a far greater focus on exam results than on the wellbeing of students.”

Schools that prioritise wellbeing also tend to do better academically, so it makes sense to focus on promoting good mental health, rather than putting children under yet more pressure.
Tom Madders, Director of Communications and Campaigns

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Our Wise Up To Wellbeing campaign focuses on rebalancing the education system so that the wellbeing of students is as important as academic achievement.   

Children in Birmingham face some of the longest waiting times

Figures from NHS Digital have revealed that children with mental health problems in Birmingham face waiting five months longer than the rest of the country. Children in the Solihull NHS area are waiting an average of 164 days, while those in the Wolverhampton NHS area have the longest wait at 149 days.

Tom Madders, our Director of Communications & Campaigns, says:

“While the quality of care that Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) provides can be excellent, it is often desperately hard to access these services, with many children and young people facing unacceptable waiting times.

Every day we get calls to our helpline from parents whose children have been waiting months for an initial assessment, or left on long waiting lists for treatment that they need. Sometimes their child has started to self-harm, become suicidal or dropped out of school during the wait.
Tom Madders, Director of Communications and Campaigns

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See the Government’s proposals for reducing the waiting times for children accessing mental health services.

Pupils should take exams earlier as an antidote for exam pressure, Schools Minister says

Schools Minister Nick Gibb has suggested that regular testing from the age of 11 would help students prepare for GCSEs more, lessening the impact exams have on their mental health. He says, “The way to deal with exam pressures is to make sure that young people have taken exams earlier on in their school career… so they are used to taking exams.”

Matt Blow, our Policy Manager, says:

At the moment the education system is fundamentally unbalanced, with a far greater focus on exam results than the wellbeing of students.

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Our Wise Up To Wellbeing campaign focuses on rebalancing the education system so that the wellbeing of students is as important as academic achievement.  

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