Children’s Mental Health

10 Ways to Support a Young Carer in Your School This Carers Week

Shawmind is on a mission to raise the levels of mental health awareness and understanding in schools. This Carers Week, we want to raise awareness and highlight the challenges young carers may experience, and how schools can offer effective support. 

Reports estimate that there are around 800,000 young carers in the UK. We want to help schools provide effective support for the mental health, wellbeing and education of children and especially young carers across the UK. 

If you want to support the mental health of young carers in your school, find out more about Headucation. 

Identifying young carers in the school  

Before implementing practices to support young carers in your school, it’s important to identify who they are. Your school should have a system in place to identify who the young carers are so they can be offered the proper support they need.  

Some signs someone may have caring responsibilities to look out for include:  

  • Regular lateness 
  • Change in hygiene/appearance  
  • Change in behaviour – becoming aggressive or angry, withdrawn or quieter 
  • Tiredness 
  • Low attention span  
  • Lack of motivation 
  • Low attendance  
  • Not completing homework 
  • Feelings of anxiety 
  • Parent/guardian uses disabled parking space  
  • Lack of parent/guardian attendance to parents evening/other school events  
  • On pupil premium/free school meals  
  • Low mood/mental ill-health  

If teachers or staff notice the above signs, it is an indication that the child needs to have a meeting with the young person to get to the bottom of the issue.  

Building awareness and understanding 

Supporting young carers starts by building awareness and understanding of their circumstances. It is important to highlight what a young carer is, what their responsibilities are and how this may have an impact on their education and mental health.  

This way, staff and teachers are fully equipped with the knowledge of what a young carer is so they can provide the necessary support. Students should also be aware of what a young carer is so they can provide support to their peers. 

Providing emotional support 

Being a young carer can be an emotionally difficult and isolating experience. Many young people across the country are juggling being a carer with their social lives and educational responsibilities. This can have a significant impact on their mental health, and it is important to consider their wellbeing from a holistic lens.  

Schools should implement support and counselling services like Headucation, or groups for the young carers in their school. They should have at least one trusted, dedicated staff member who they can confide in and express themselves to.  

It is also worth setting up a club for the young carers in the school to meet up regularly, so they can find solace in individuals who are experiencing the same struggles as them and avoid being lonely. This is important for them, as many young carers often neglect their social lives, which can impact their mental health. Also, they can support each other emotionally and develop meaningful friendships, develop resilience and learn new skills.  

Academic support and flexible learning 

Young carers may often neglect their education due to their carer responsibilities. If teachers notice a decline or plateau in academic performance, it is important to provide academic support to help them through their challenges. This could include:  

  • Flexible deadlines and homework extensions 
  • Individualised learning plans 
  • Regular communication and check-ins 
  • Additional academic support and resources 
  • Homework clubs and study groups 
  • Academic mentoring 
  • Time management skills 
  • In-class support and accommodations 
  • Liaising with support services 
  • Celebrating achievements 

This can significantly help a young carer with their academic responsibilities. It is also important to have regular check-ins to keep up-to-date with their lives and tailor the support accordingly.  

Collaboration with carer support organisations 

It is important to recognise when your institution needs professional advice and guidance when it comes to supporting your carers. There are many organisations and charities that can support you and provide advice so you can take the right steps when providing a young carer with support.  

You could speak to your local council to find any local carer support organisations, and remain in consistent contact so they can keep up to date with your school, and you can keep your school’s wellbeing policy up to date.  

Providing respite and relaxation opportunities 

It is important to highlight the challenges young carers face and recognise their struggles. Where most young people finish school and go home to a place of relaxation, young carers may have a long list of duties that are waiting for them when they come home. Being constantly mentally and physically active can impact their mental wellbeing, leading to fatigue and exhaustion, compounded by the demands made of them emotionally by the adults in their care.  

It is important for schools to support the mental health and wellbeing of young carers, and provide the opportunity for respite and relaxation if they feel they are physically or mentally exhausted. Teachers should be trained to recognise signs of exhaustion and offer relaxation opportunities and mental health days.  

Young carers who need a break could be taken out of non-compulsory classes or provided with time to relax with a book in the library or take a peaceful walk on the playground with the supervision of a staff member. This can help them unwind and recuperate in time for their more important lessons.  

Young carers should also be taught how to practise self-care, prioritise their wellbeing and stress management techniques such as mindfulness practices, so that they can use it when they are at home. This ensures that they are looking after themselves and building resilience.  

Engaging with parents and guardians 

Schools should be in regular contact with the parents or guardians of young carers, and understand any home circumstances that could impact them, or raise a safeguarding concern if warranted. Regular contact allows for schools to tailor the support and care they offer each young carer to ensure they are making their lives as easy as possible.  

Schools should also regularly update parents or guardians on the support they are providing, and offer any resources or information to parents that can support the young carer.  

Addressing attendance and punctuality issues 

Young carers can often have a hard time being punctual or attending school. This can be due to their carer responsibilities overtaking their time, or their exhaustion from an irregular sleep schedule due to nights of caring. 

Schools should implement strategies to address attendance and punctuality challenges some young carers may have. They should also do welfare checks on any absences to ensure the child is okay, and offer any support, or raise a safeguarding concern if appropriate. If a child is absent frequently, entice them to come to school by offering relaxed learning techniques, as they may not realise they need a break from being at home.  

Evaluation and continuous improvement 

Schools should regularly reflect on the effectiveness of their support strategies and implement any necessary changes or alterations if aspects of the strategies aren’t working as effectively as they should. 

Collecting feedback from young carers within the school will allow schools to adapt accordingly and implement necessary changes, ultimately supporting the wellbeing and educational needs of the young carers.  

Celebrating and recognising young carers 

This carers week, celebrate and recognise the achievements, resilience and challenges young carers face. It is important to recognise their contributions and selflessness as they care for their families and communities.  

Recognition of the contributions they make can uplift their spirits, boost their self-esteem and make them feel valued by their community.  


Shawmind has a mission to improve children and teen’s mental health across the nation. We provide early intervention to prevent a further mental health crisis in the next generation. If you want to support Headucation, please donate or choose to do one of our mental health courses. Alternatively, you can book Headucation for your school.  

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How to Encourage Positive Behaviour on Social Media for Children

Just like how you teach children how to behave in school or in public, teaching them how to behave online is no different. Our lives have become increasingly digitised, and online etiquette is becoming more and more important. Research shows that 87% of teens are active users of social media.  

As part of our mission to raise awareness for young people’s mental health problems through our Headucation classes in schools, we want to equip parents with the skills and knowledge they need to educate children and young people on how to act positively on social media.  

This article will be discussing how parents can play an active role in teaching their children how to act positively on social media.  


Respecting opinions 

In the past, we were limited to the opinions of our social group and the discourse of our local community. With the rise of the internet, we are more connected than ever before. We have access to opinions from people from every corner of the globe.  

Although this can be a force for good, it requires a level of maturity to respect other people’s opinions, respond to disagreements critically or keep scrolling if you disagree. 

Respecting others’ opinions means acknowledging that people have different views, beliefs, and perspectives on various issues. It also means recognising that everyone has the right to express their opinions without fear of being ridiculed or attacked. 

It is important that we teach children about the diversity that exists on the internet, and how she should respect people’s opinions without being rude or disrespectful.  


Encourage empathy and understanding 

Encouraging empathy and understanding is another vital aspect of positive online behaviour. This means helping your children put themselves in other people’s shoes and understand how their words and actions can impact others.  

Children can often forget about the fact that on the other side of the interaction is another human being. The shield of anonymity that digital interactions have can be a slippery slope into bullying and rude behaviour. 

It is important to foster empathy so they learn early on about proper internet etiquette.  


Educate them on cyberbullying 

Many children may not be aware of the harmful impacts of cyberbullying. Although many parents teach the protocol for if they feel they are a victim of cyberbullying, many parents forget to teach their children not to cyberbully others. 

It is important that the conversation on cyberbullying goes both ways. This way not only are they protected, but other children are protected too. This also teaches them about empathy and respect for others online.  


Encourage them to share positive and uplifting content 

Social media can be a cause for good, and it is important to have conversations with children about how they can be a positive role model online. As a parent, it is important to monitor the type of content your child shares online, it is also important to encourage them to share positive and uplifting content. 


Some ideas for positive content that they can post include: 

  • Any creative work they have done 
  • Posting positive comments  
  • Sharing positive news stories 
  • Supporting positive causes 
  • Sharing photos of their pets 
  • Happy family moments 


Encourage them to be supportive and look out for others 

To foster a positive online community, it is important to teach children how to be supportive and encouraging of their online peers. If a friend has posted something positive, teach them how to comment something supportive.  

Similarly, if they see any negative or dangerous content, teach them how to report it and when to speak to an adult about what they have seen. This helps create an environment where children feel positive about their time on social media.  


Teach them how to deal with negative comments or interactions positively 

Of course, the internet won’t always be a positive environment, and it is important to equip children with the skills and knowledge on how to deal with negativity in a positive way.  

It is important to help children understand that not everyone will like them. Teach them that not everyone will like them or agree with them online, just as in real life. Help them develop a thick skin and understand that negative comments are not a reflection of their worth. 

If they feel they are being bullied online, teach them to speak to a trusted adult immediately and block any negative accounts. Similarly, teach them not to respond to negativity and this can often escalate the situation.  


Monitor their social media use 

It is important for parents and carers to monitor young people’s social media accounts. Make sure to check their: 

  • Comments 
  • Watch history 
  • Liked photos 
  • Followers/following list 
  • Direct messages 
  • Privacy settings 
  • Content they have uploaded 
  • Time spent on social media apps 
  • Location settings 

Encourage Offline Interactions 

Excessive social media consumption can be damaging for children’s mental health. To promote good mental health, be sure to set time limits on the amount of social media time your child is allowed per day. It is important to make sure they participate in offline activities such as sports, art classes and family time.  




Shawmind has a mental health awareness mission to improve children and teen’s mental health across the nation. We want to provide early intervention to prevent a further mental health crisis. If you want to support Headucation, please donate or choose to do one of our mental health courses. Alternatively, you can book Headucation for your school.  

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How to Ensure Safe Use of Social Media for Children’s Mental Health Awareness

Where once it was simply just a platform for adults to share pictures with friends, now, almost all ages have had an experience with social media at one point in their lives.  

Whether its toddlers watching YouTube, tweens on Snapchat, teens on TikTok or adults on Facebook and Instagram, social media has become an integral part of our society. 

Research shows that 87% of teens are active users of social media. With a growing child/teen demographic, it’s time for parents and teachers to equip children with the skills they need to handle social media in a responsible way.  

Evidence shows that there is a growing link between social media and depression and mental health problems. We offer Headucation in schools to improve the mental health of children. At Shawmind, we are dedicated to improving young people’s mental health, so we’ll be discussing how to ensure children are using social media safely. 


In this article, we will be discussing: 

  • The risks associated with social media 
  • Tips on how to use social media safely for parents and carers 
  • How to use safety settings on different social media platforms 


What are the risks associated with social media? 


For as long as social media has been around, cyberbullying has been a prominent issue that impacts children on social media.  

With a digital shield of anonymity, many online bullies feel reduced responsibility, empathy and accountability when interacting with their victims.  


Cyberbullying comes in many different forms, including: 

  • Threatening messages 
  • Spreading rumours  
  • Creating fake profiles of someone 
  • Account hacking 
  • Hurtful comments 
  • Distribution of private photos without consent 


Online predators  

It may be easy to protect your child and identify predators in real life, but it can be a lot more difficult online.  

There are an estimated 500,000 active online predators each day. Many predators may use fake profiles on online chatrooms to gain a child’s trust to solicit inappropriate pictures, videos and conversation, and arrange in-person meetings to further exploit the child.  

Although this can typically be a stranger, the online groomer can be someone the child knows or has met in real life, who is pretending to be their age online. They typically target children aged 12-15, with over 50% of the victims of online sexual exploitation in that age bracket.  


Exposure to inappropriate content 

Although many platforms have age restrictions and content policies, young minds can still be at risk of premature exposure to adult materials. This can be anything from sexual to violent materials.  

This is concerning for children and teenagers who do not have the sexual or mental maturity to handle such content.  


Unrealistic aspirational content 

Aspirational content on social media refers to the highly curated and often unrealistic content that people post online to portray their lives in a positive light.  

This can include seemingly flawless bodies, beautiful people, luxurious locations, perfectly styled outfits, expensive cars and shopping trips and a cool group of friends.  

While many adults may be able to see past the glossy images, many children and young adults may struggle to accept that their life does not match up to the perfectly curated lifestyle they see some influencers living.  

This can lead to a young person having unrealistic standards of beauty, beauty, success, or happiness. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and depression, and can lead to serious conditions like eating disorders. 


Tips for parents to ensure safe social media use for their children 

Although it can be difficult to keep up with technology, as a parent, you play an important role in ensuring that your child uses social media safely.  


Encourage open communication between parent and child 

Parents should have an open and ongoing conversation with their child about social media use. They should discuss the risks and benefits of social media and establish clear guidelines and expectations for safe use. 

It is important to discuss the risks associated with improper social media usage. Not only is it important to educate them on how to avoid the dangers of social media, it is also important to educate them on how to be respectful to other people on social media.  


Parents should discuss these rules with their child: 

  • Only allow your child to sign up for social media if they meet the minimum age requirement for that platform. 
  • Ensure your child seeks your permission before registering for a social media account. 
  • Set limits on screen time. 
  • Customise privacy settings for ultimate security.  
  • Teach children not to share personal information or inappropriate content.  
  • Children should be taught not to engage in cyberbullying 
  • No meeting strangers in person: 
  • Parents should have access to their accounts and passwords. 
  • Parents should regularly check their child’s social media. 


Teach children how to recognise risks online 

Parents should have conversations with their child about online safety and how to recognise and respond to potential risks, such as cyberbullying or online predators.  

Children and young people should be encouraged to reach out to a trusted adult like a teacher or parent if they experience or witness any unsafe behaviour online. 


Educate children on their digital footprint 

It is important that parents encourage children to be mindful of their digital footprint and to think twice before posting or sharing anything online.  

They should be reminded that anything they post online can be permanent and can have long-lasting consequences. 



Establish a healthy online/offline balance 

We have to face it, society is becoming more reliant on technology, and it is important that children know how to live their lives online in the most appropriate and safest way.  

However, it is also important to educate them on the dangers of excessive social media usage. Living in the real world and experiencing new things is important for cognitive development and mood improvement. Find a healthy online/offline balance and try to do outdoor activities as much as possible.  


How to utilise safety features and settings on social media 


Restricted Mode 

This feature filters out content that may not be appropriate for all audiences. Parents can enable this feature by going to the “Me” tab, selecting “Settings and Privacy,” and then choosing “Digital Wellbeing.” 

Privacy Settings 

Parents can set their child’s account to private so only approved followers can see their content. To do this, go to “Settings and Privacy,” select “Privacy and Safety,” and then turn on “Private Account.” 

Family Safety Mode 

This feature allows parents to link their own TikTok account to their child’s, giving them control over their child’s settings and screen time. 



Private Account 

Similar to TikTok, parents can set their child’s account to private so only approved followers can see their content. To do this, go to “Settings,” select “Privacy,” and then turn on “Private Account.” 

Comment Controls 

Parents can limit who can comment on their child’s posts or turn off comments altogether. To do this, go to “Settings,” select “Privacy,” and then choose “Comments.” 

Story Sharing 

Parents can control who can share their child’s story by going to “Settings,” selecting “Privacy,” and then choosing “Story.” 



Privacy Settings 

Parents can set their child’s account to private, meaning only approved friends can see their content. To do this, go to “Settings,” select “Privacy,” and then choose “Who can see my stuff?” 

Restricted List 

Parents can add people to their child’s restricted list, meaning they won’t see their posts unless they’re public. To do this, go to the person’s profile, select “More,” and then choose “Add to Restricted List.” 

Messenger Kids 

Facebook offers a separate app called Messenger Kids, designed for children under 13. Parents can control their child’s contacts and monitor their messages. 



Privacy Settings 

You can set your child’s account to private, meaning only approved followers can see their content. To do this, go to “Settings and Privacy,” select “Privacy and Safety,” and then turn on “Protect Your Tweets.” 

Mute and Block  

You can mute or block other Twitter users to prevent them from interacting with their child’s account. To do this, go to the person’s profile, select “More,” and then choose “Mute” or “Block.” 



Privacy Settings 

Parents can set their child’s account to private, meaning only approved friends can see their content. To do this, go to “Settings,” select “Who Can,” and then choose “My Friends.” 

Snap Map 

Parents can enable “Ghost Mode” on their child’s Snap Map, which hides their location from others. To do this, pinch the screen on the Snap Map and then select “Ghost Mode.” 

Report Abuse 

Parents can report inappropriate content or behaviour on Snapchat by pressing and holding on the person’s name or snap, selecting “More,” and then choosing “Report.” 



Shawmind has a mission to improve children and teen’s mental health across the nation. We want to provide early intervention to prevent a further mental health crisis. If you want to support Headucation, please donate or choose to do one of our mental health courses. Alternatively, you can book Headucation for your school.  


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Strategies for Supporting Children’s Mental Health

Mental health professionals have been pushing for mental health awareness and recognition across the UK. In 2021, it was found that 1 in every 6 children is experiencing a mental health condition. However, Shawmind is working towards providing schools and parents with the resources they need to reduce the number of children facing mental health problems.

If you’re worried about a child or you are wanting to maintain their good mental health, we will be discussing what you can do as a parent, carer or educator.

Understanding children’s mental health

Mental health is defined as a person’s overall psychological well-being. Measurements of mental health include cognitive, emotional and social functioning, including self-esteem, measurements of happiness, how the individual handles stress and more how they interact with others.

Factors that can impact children’s mental health

There are many factors that impact a child’s mental health, including:

  • Genetics
  • Environment
  • Exposure to stresses
  • Eating habits
  • Economic stance
  • Parenting
  • School environment
  • Home environment

What types of mental health problems can children experience?

Children can experience a wide range of mental health problems. Here are a few common mental health problems children may experience.

How to recognise mental health problems in children

Although many adults may find it difficult to speak about their mental health, young children are more vulnerable in society and can often find it difficult to comprehend their own mental health experiences.

Pre-teens and teens may not speak up about their mental health out of worry they may not be understood or believed. This means it is the responsibility of the adults in their life to recognise any potential signs of poor mental health.

Here are a few signs to recognise childhood mental illness.

Changes in mood or behaviour

If a child has had a sudden switch in their behaviour or mood, this could be a sign of a deeper issue.

Physical symptoms

Whether it is sudden weight loss, headaches, fatigue or stomach aches, some mental health problems can manifest into physical symptoms. Some children may also pretend to be physically ill as a way of communicating a deeper issue that they struggle to explain.

Sleep disturbances

Just like adults may struggle to sleep when experiencing anxiety, dealing with stress, depression or other mental health problems, children are the same. Sudden changes in sleeping habits can be a symptom of poor mental health.


One of the more obvious tell-tale signs of a mental health issue. If you detect signs of a child self-harming, this is a serious sign of a deeper mental health problem that needs immediate treatment.

Poor academic behaviour or performance

If a child’s behaviour and academic performance makes a drastic turn for the worse, it is worth investigating, as it could be a sign of poor mental health.

Changes in social habits

Sudden withdrawal from friends, family and teachers and a lack of interest in their usual hobbies and interests can be a sign of poor mental health.

Strategies for supporting children’s mental health at home

Shawmind is an early intervention charity. Our aim is to prevent people from experiencing mental health issues by raising awareness on how to create a mental health positive environment.

As a parent or carer, it is your responsibility to make sure your child’s mental health is supported in the home. Here are a few tips on how to create a safe and supportive environment for your child at home so they don’t experience mental health conditions.

Establish routines

Children feel more safe and secure when they have structure in their lives. Establish a routine for meals, bedtimes and activities. This can also improve their sleep, which can improve their mental health overall.

Open communication policy

Children should feel safe enough to express their emotions and be their true selves. Part of being a supportive parent or carer is to listen to their feelings without judgement, provide emotional support and encourage open dialogue.

Practise positive reinforcement

Recognise any key achievements and positive behaviours with praise and reward to build their self-esteem. Positive self-esteem lays the foundations for good mental health.

Encourage physical activity

Physical health has a large influence over our mental health. Physical activity can release endorphins which are good for the brain and spending time with parents/carers doing physical activities is enjoyable for children.

Limit screen time

Children should have limited access to screen time, even as teenagers. You should encourage activities such as reading, going outdoors, creative play and productive hobbies which can be positive for their mental wellbeing and self-esteem. Social media access should be limited and should be accessed in accordance with the app’s guidelines; all social media access should be monitored to ensure the child’s safety – both physically, mentally and emotionally.

Provide a balanced diet

Processed and sugary foods and drinks have been shown to negatively impact physical and mental health. Children should be provided with a balanced diet that is nutritious, healthy and appropriate for them.

Model healthy behaviours

Children need healthy role models to take after. As a parent or carer, you should model healthy behaviour such as emotional regulation, open dialogue, healthy eating habits, physical exercise, self-care and accessing professional help when you need it.

Strategies for supporting children’s mental health at school

Children and young people spend a large portion of their lives in a school environment, so it is important that schools do everything they can to ensure their environment is healthy and positive.


A negative school environment can cause mental health issues in children, so here are a few strategies schools can implement to improve the mental health of students.


A positive school environment means children are more likely to feel safe, secure, open about their feelings and comfortable expressing their personality. Schools can foster a positive environment by:

  • Promoting diversity
  • Encouraging involvement in extracurricular activities
  • Providing student leadership positions
  • Creating a culture of respect and empathy
  • Encouraging physical activity
  • Celebrating student achievements
  • Addressing bullying and discrimination promptly and effectively
  • Encouraging family and community involvement
  • Promoting respect
  • Providing access to mental health services
  • Offering mental health awareness education
  • Fostering positive relationships between students and staff
  • Establishing positive role models
  • Encouraging group activity to build relationships
  • Promoting and providing tools through which to develop resilience

Teachers and staff members should be educated on mental health so that they can work to maintain positive mental health for themselves as well as the students in the school.

Through our Headucation programme, Shawmind offers a large variety of mental health courses for schools, as well as a peer mentoring programme free of charge to schools so children and staff can be educated on mental health. You can get involved and support this programme for schools by donating today.

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Understanding children’s mental health rights in the UK

The growing issue of children’s mental health and wellbeing has become a pressing issue in the UK. 1 in 6 children aged 5 to 16 are struggling with a mental health problem.

However, mental health is still a largely stigmatised and misunderstood aspect of our society. Without proper education and mental health awareness, the issue cannot be improved.

Shawmind is an early intervention charity working towards educating young minds and young adults alike on mental health and emotional wellbeing, and how to manage them effectively.

If you’re a child, guardian, parent, teacher or anyone who works with children, and are wanting to gain an insight into the rights children have surrounding mental health, this article is a starting point on what you need to know.

What is mental health?

To understand how to manage mental health, it is important to understand what it means and what it encompasses. Mental health refers to an individual’s psychological well being, from behaviours, emotions and thoughts.

Mental health can impact how an individual perceives others and how an individual interacts with them. It also encompasses self perception and how a person views the world around them.

Mental health can also impact physical health. Stress hormones can have a physiological impact on our bodies. Poor mental health can lead to feelings of demotivation and low self esteem, which can lead to poor physical health choices. If left untreated for too long, poor mental health can lead to mental health disorders which can be more complicated to treat.

What are children’s mental health acts and rights in the UK?

The current legislation around rights and mental health in the UK sets out that children should not be discriminated against due to a mental health condition nor should they suffer abuse (either mental abuse or physical abuse that can lead to mental health conditions in the future).

Existing legislation also ensures that relevant parties are responsible for all elements of a child’s welfare and that official procedures are in place to assess and treat children with mental health conditions.

From September 2020, education around mental health was also made compulsory in schools, after a campaign spearheaded by Shawmind, then “The Shaw Mind Foundation”, in 2017.

Some current legislations that support children’s mental health are:

Schools (Mental Health and Wellbeing) Bill 2020: Amends the Education Act 2002 and the Academies Act 2010 to provide for schools to promote the mental health and wellbeing of their pupils.

Mental Health Act (MHA) 1983 in England and Wales: Covers the rights of anyone regarding mental health, including young people under the age of 18.

Mental Health Act 2007: This act is an updated version of the 1983 act, making room for more safeguarding measures for children,

Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1986: This is the main legislation for mental health of young persons under 18 in Northern Ireland.

Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003: This legislation gives rights to people of all ages with a mental health condition and the wellbeing of children.

Mental Health (Scotland) Act 2015: This legislation is an amended version of the 2003 act.

Some other acts to consider are:

  • The Human Rights Act
  • The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • The Children Act
  • The Education Act

What mental health services are available in the UK?

The main service for children and young people’s mental health is CYPMHS, commonly known as CAMHS ( children and adolescent mental health services). This consists of a variety of specialists that work together within the NHS system. The systems in place can different depending on the region and the local authority.

  • Children’s mental health specialists include:
  • Nurses
  • Social workers
  • Schools and/or colleges
  • Psychologists
  • Children’s wellbeing practitioners
  • Specialist substance misuse workers
  • Occupational therapists
  • Psychological therapists
  • Education mental health therapists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Primary mental health workers

Due to the mental health crisis in children and your adults in the UK currently, the NHS has a long referral waitlist. This means that many young people can go long periods of time with poor mental health without proper support, or their parents are forced to pay for private therapy.

There are free mental health and wellbeing services in all areas of the country. Some of these services are:

  • Childline: A children and young people’s wellbeing and welfare charity. They work with anyone under the age of 19.
  • NSPCC: A charity that works in many aspects of children’s wellbeing and welfare. This includes working with families, schools and local councils to protect children from abuse.
  • Shawmind: An early intervention charity working towards educating children, young people, carers, parents and teachers about mental health through its Headucation programme.

What more can be done to improve children’s mental health in the UK?

Shawmind is an early intervention charity. This means we aim to educate young people about mental health. We aim to reduce the impact of mental health on children in the long term by reducing the number of young people in need of intense clinical support, this can take the weight off the NHS and other mental health support systems.

Early intervention reduces the impact of mental health on children in the long term and reduces the number of young people in need of intense clinical support. It can enable professional services like CAMHS to provide fast and efficient support for those who need it.

Because mental health education isn’t legally required, many schools have to pay to educate their staff and students about mental health. Our Headucation campaign is educating teachers in UK schools about mental health to equip them with the skills to support their students’ mental health.
This includes knowing the factors that put children at risk of developing poor mental health, the signs a child is struggling with mental health and resources to use when having conversations with children about mental health.
These services require funding. As a charity, we rely on donations to make sure we can provide children and young people with the mental health facilities they need to lead happy and productive lives.

We need to do more to protect children’s mental health. Help us raise funds by donating to our fundraiser, buying a product from our store or signing up for one of our mental health training courses – all proceeds will go to Headucation.

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Why mental health education in schools is so important

According to the Prince’s Trust’s Youth Index, one-quarter of young people are unable to cope with life. Report after report reveals the mental health toll exacerbated by lockdown conditions. Research has found that the first national lockdown harmed children’s mental health. If there was a mental health crisis among young people prior to the pandemic, it can only get worse now. As a result, it is critical that children receive the best possible support.  

Schools play an important role in providing assistance to children and adolescents with their mental health. We believe teachers play a crucial role in supporting children and young people’s mental health, which is why we run our Headucation programme. Headucation aims to improve the mental health of the next generation by addressing mental health in schools through a whole-school approach.   

Find out more about our headucation programme here. 


Why should children learn about mental health? 

1. The importance of early intervention 

Small changes in thinking and behaviour are frequently noticed by family, friends, teachers, and individuals themselves before a mental illness manifests itself fully. Learning about early warning signs and acting on them can be beneficial. 

Teaching and talking to children about mental health in an age appropriate manner, can lessen the severity of the illness and may even prevent or postpone the development of a major mental illness. Apathy, feelings of disconnection, nervousness, unusual behaviour, withdrawal, mood changes, and a drop in performance are some of the symptoms. 


2. Mental Health Is Equally Important as Physical Health 

We typically associate the term “health” with physical health. Physical health is extremely important in our children’s lives, and physical education has been a vital part of the curriculum for a long time. We must, however, consider our children’s mental health on the same level. We want them to live a happy and healthy life, so we must teach them to understand how mental and physical health interact. 

To live a happy life while coping with everyday stresses, we need to know how to handle our mental health. We can learn this while we are in school. Knowing the role mental health plays in their lives allows children to become happy adults. Happy, functional adults are better equipped to handle life. 


3. Students’ Mental Health Impacts Learning and Achievement 

Few children are aware that poor mental health can have an impact on learning and achievement. Children and adolescents who have mental health issues may struggle to learn. They may also struggle to complete tasks and concentrate. These children are also more likely to have poor academic performance and to miss school. 

Children and teens who have mental health issues are less likely to graduate. They also have a harder time attending and completing postsecondary education. 


4. Societal Pressures from Social Media 

When children begin using social media, they must understand mental wellbeing. Social media is extremely important in today’s world, particularly in the lives of young people. Children and teenagers can learn unhealthy ways to talk, behave, socialise, and interact on social media. 

Children’s mental health may suffer as they become more reliant on social media. Children who use social media extensively are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. If children learn about mental health in school, they will be able to make better social media decisions, lowering their chances of developing these conditions. 


Our children’s mental health is in crisis, and we need your help: 

We want to raise £20,000 before the end of 2022 to ensure we can support AT LEAST 3000 school children with their mental health and emotional well-being throughout 2023. 

Your donations will help us achieve this goal and change young people’s lives forever. >> 

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4 ways to implement mindfulness in the classroom

Incorporate mindfulness into classroom activities by including breathing, sensory experience, guided imagery, and movement exercises into the day-to-day curriculum.

Teaching mindfulness in the classroom is more important than ever. 66% of school-age children are currently experiencing stress and worry about school, exams and homework and teachers and parents are equally concerned and anxious for them. Our lives are hectic, and we frequently find ourselves dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness is important for children because it teaches them to live in the present moment, to enjoy and experience what is in front of them rather than dwelling on the past or worrying for the future.

Educators understand that children learn best when they are at ease, safe, and calm. Imagine if, in addition to the gift of lifelong learning and the tools to become compassionate and productive adults, we could also offer our children the gift of mindfulness – the ability to use their breath and mind to live a happy and healthy life. Teachers will benefit from mindfulness as well, because we all know that a happy teacher has a happy classroom.

Here are 4 ways to implement mindfulness in your classroom:

1. Mindfulness Through Breath

We commonly take short breaths into our chests when we are upset or anxious. You may utilise your breath to soothe both your body and mind by inhaling deeply into your abdomen. Place your right hand on your abdomen and your left hand on your chest to practise mindful breathing. Feel the smooth rise and fall of your breath. Count to three as you inhale, then three more times as you exhale. If it’s more comfortable for you, close your eyes. Try mindful breathing on your own first, then with your students. They can pretend to fill a balloon in their stomachs, or you can use a Hoberman Sphere to show the breath visually.

You may use this easy breathing technique throughout the school day to aid with transitions, before tests, or in stressful circumstances.

2. Mindfulness Through Sensory Experiences

Sensory experiences also assist youngsters in focusing and relaxing. In the classroom, try listening to soothing music or other peaceful noises. You might also take the kids outside to listen to the sounds of nature. They may make mind jars or play I Spy. This exercise entails placing objects with strong, recognisable odours (such as cinnamon, flowers, cheese, or popcorn) in jars and having the children estimate the items based on their sense of smell. Close their eyes, give each child a cotton ball or sponge, and have them guess what they’re holding to focus their sense of touch. Sensory tables with containers of water, sand, ice, or themed items are fantastic. Use Play-doh, clay, or Slime to encourage developmentally beneficial imaginative play.

3. Mindfulness Through Guided Imagery

Guided imagery fosters the development of children’s imaginations. It also aids in the integration of new knowledge with existing knowledge. When you begin a new topic in your lecture, have your students close their eyes (if that is comfortable) and walk them on a fictitious journey. If you’re studying the ocean, for example, have students envision getting into underwater vehicles and travelling around the ocean waters in search of fish, creatures, and plants. Finish the guided relaxation with a few deep breaths, and then they can sketch their thoughts and discuss them as a class. Depending on your curriculum subjects, you may take them on pretend adventures into outer space, to the beach, forest, or a deserted island, on a safari, or up a volcano. Take your children on journeys through relaxation stories to help them calm down and re-energise.

4. Mindfulness Through Movement

Humans are born to move. Our distant ancestors spent their days running from predators or hunting for food. Movement is a natural part of human life that has become a luxury in modern times. Introducing movement into your classroom allows your students to tap into their natural way of learning. Yoga is a simple strategy for adding movement to your school day. Children can mimic their environment to develop their self-expression and self-confidence. They can practice yoga in their chairs, in the gym, or outside. Again, using poses that correspond with your class topic makes the motion relevant and meaningful for your students.

Are you interested in learning more about mindfulness?

Our 6-week Mindfulness course teaches the learner what mindfulness is, the importance of mindfulness in relationships, the neuroscience of self-compassion, and an understanding of how to apply mindfulness in your life.

Our CPD Accredited Understanding Stress course teaches the learner what stress is, how it can be managed and prevented, and how you can support someone who is struggling with stress.

For more information on how stress, including stress management through mindfulness, download our stress guide.

At Shawmind, we want to make it easier for you to handle moments of poor mental health by reducing stigma and increasing awareness and support options. That’s why all funds raised through our online courses support Headucation – our mission to train teachers in the basics of mental health support.

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How can mindfulness benefit young people?

It suggests that the mind is fully attending to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, to the space you’re moving through. That might seem trivial, except for the annoying fact that we so often veer from the matter at hand. Mindfulness is slowing down and paying close attention to what you’re doing, even if it is an exercise as simply focusing on your breath.

66% of school-age children are currently experiencing stress about school, exams and homework. When young people practise mindfulness, they slow down, take their time, and concentrate on something that is both calming and stress-free. Breathing techniques, imagery, bodily awareness, and relaxation are common components of mindfulness meditation. Being mindful assists young people to cope with frustration when they confront a challenging situation in their life. It may also be utilised when they need to focus their attention on something specific and avoid being distracted.

Practising mindfulness may enhance attention spans for almost everyone, even young people with ADHD and ADD who can often find it hard to pay attention and stay focussed. People who learn how to practise mindfulness have superior attention spans and are less easily distracted. Mindfulness also assists people in being calm under stress, avoiding overreacting, getting along better with others, and being more patient. It can even improve learning, assist children and teenagers become better listeners, and make them feel happy in general.

Childhood and adolescence are critical phases in the development of young people. What occurs to them during these stages of their lives will establish the groundwork for their future mental health. Here are the three main ways mindfulness benefits young people.

Emotional Benefits

Emotional health, often known as a good sense of well-being, is a vital aspect of every young person’s life. Not only is it the foundation of mental health, but it may also assist prevent mental health concerns such as:

  • Anxiety, stress and depression
  • Problems with self-esteem
  • Social relationships issues

Overall, being mindful or engaging in mindfulness exercises can help young people not only manage stress but also boost their feeling of well-being.

Social Benefits

Difficulties connecting and talking with others can cause issues with learning, comprehension, and school atmosphere. However, mindfulness programmes have been demonstrated to increase these skills and contribute to beneficial outcomes in the classroom.

Mindfulness has also been demonstrated to improve a young person’s capacity to manage emotions and experience compassion and empathy. It is also commonly regarded as a helpful therapy for persons of all ages who suffer from aggressiveness, ADHD, or mental health issues such as anxiety. It can even be used to relieve the agony of bullying.

Mindfulness may also be used to develop self-concept, increase planning abilities, and manage urges. Mindfulness, when applied properly in schools, can reduce the frequency of trips to the principal’s office, minimise school bullying, and enhance attendance.

Cognitive Benefits

Teaching children mindfulness can improve their cognitive skills, particularly the executive functions conducted by the brain. Executive functions control a person’s capacity to pay attention, alter focus, organise information, recall details, and plan.

Are you interested in learning more about mindfulness?

Our 6-week Mindfulness course teaches the learner what mindfulness is, the importance of mindfulness in relationships, the neuroscience of self-compassion, and an understanding of how to apply mindfulness in your life.

Our CPD Accredited Understanding Stress course teaches the learner what stress is, how it can be managed and prevented, and how you can support someone who is struggling with stress.

For more information on how stress, including stress-management through mindfulness, download our stress guide.

At Shawmind, we want to make it easier for you to handle moments of poor mental health by reducing stigma and increasing awareness and support options. That’s why all funds raised through our online courses support Headucation – our mission to train teachers in the basics of mental health support.

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Simple ways to use the “5 ways to wellbeing” for young people

It’s the Mental Health Foundation’s Wellbeing Week from 27th June 2022! It’s a fantastic initiative to provide young people with the tools and knowledge to help manage their mental health. 

As a champion of children and young people’s mental health, Shawmind wants to use this week to help young people, as well as those who support young people (like teachers, parents, and volunteers), find simple ways to implement good habits and practices for looking after mental health and preventing early symptoms from deteriorating.  

What are the “5 ways to wellbeing”? 

Wellbeing Week revolves around the 5 ways to wellbeing – a set of behaviours identified by the NEF that “enhance individual well-being and may have the potential to reduce the total number of people who develop mental health disorders in the longer term.” 

These are: 

  1. Connect 
  2. Be active 
  3. Take notice 
  4. Keep learning 
  5. Give 

In this article, we’ve highlighted some simple ways young people can implement these behaviours in their daily life – as well as ways that you can support young people in your care to improve their wellbeing.  

1. Connect

Building and maintaining connections with the people around you – like friends, family, and members of your community – can help you feel supported and enriched in your daily life.  

How can young people ‘connect’ for mental health? 

  • Join support and talking groups. Want to talk to someone? Come along to our Breathe Café for real conversations about anything that’s bothering you.  
  • Join sports teams or community groups e.g. Scouts, Girl Guides 
  • Reach out to someone you wouldn’t normally talk to at school – you might find you have more in common than you think! 

How can you help young people ‘connect’ for their mental health?

  • Encourage group activities in the classroom that mix up the usual cliques 
  • Organise after-school activities with other children and young people 
  • Car share during the school run or walk to school in groups 

2. Be Active

Physical activity releases endorphins that make us feel good. Regular activity can boost your mood, release stress, and improve your self-confidence.  

How can young people ‘be active’ for mental health?

  • Try to walk a little every day – e.g. walk to school or go for a walk before dinner 
  • Join a team sport or sporting club 
  • Stretch for 5-10 mins after waking up 

How can you help young people ‘be active’ for mental health? 

  • Besides PE, get students active during lessons by moving around the classroom or going outside 
  • Organise walks with groups of people like friends and family  
  • Get active at the weekends – go to an adventure park, go cycling, or spend time playing in the garden 

3. Take Notice

Taking notice of the things around you – big and small – can help you savour the moment, reflect on your experiences and appreciate what matters most to you. Mindfulness has been linked to lower stress levels and greater daily satisfaction. 

How can young people ‘take notice’ for mental health? 

  • Take 5 minutes at the end of the day to reflect on something good that happened that you are grateful for  
  • Make a note of anything unusual or interesting you see during the day 
  • Set yourself a challenge at the start of the day to spot as many things as you can that match a specific criteria, e.g. spot as many purple things as possible 
  • When you get stressed or irritable, take slow breaths and take notice of the things you can see, hear, smell, feel, and taste 

How can you help young people ‘take notice’ for mental health? 

  • Organise a scavenger hunt or spotting game to help young people pay attention and take a closer look at the world around them 
  • Point out things when you spot them so that young people start noticing them too 
  • Start conversations with young people about how their day went so they get an opportunity to reflect 
  • Set an example by reflecting on your own positive experiences in front of them 

4. Keep Learning

Learning and achieving new things improves confidence, feelings of purpose, and daily enjoyment. Besides regular lessons, young people must have something to learn that they find fun and personal.  

How can young people ‘keep learning’ for mental health? 

  • Learn how to make your favourite meal  
  • Learn all the words to a new song you like 
  • Learn how to do a new hairstyle 

How can you help young people ‘keep learning’ for mental health? 

  • Ask questions about what young people want to do when they’re older and help them find learning activities that will help them learn skills for the future 
  • Provide a mix of activities in the classroom to support learning e.g. physical activities, reading and writing, musical activities, arts and crafts 
  • Find and share information about national challenges that might interest them e.g. National Novel Writing Month 
  • Encourage them to try new hobbies based on their interests e.g. sport, music, reading, crafts, etc 

5. Give to Others

Giving your time and energy to someone other than you can feel incredibly rewarding and make you feel good – as well as being a great way to connect with others! 

How can young people ‘give to others’ for mental health? 

  • Ask a friend or family member how their day was.  
  • Do something nice for a loved one like completing a chore or treating them to a  
  • Go the extra mile for someone’s gift by getting them something unexpected or making it yourself 
  • Volunteer for a charity. Want to volunteer for Shawmind? We have lots of ways you can get involved! Visit our volunteering page for more information.  
  • Fundraise for a cause you believe in. Want to help us improve mental health support in schools? Find out how to fundraise for us! 

How can you help young people ‘give to others’ for mental health? 

  • Organise activities to support the local community 
  • Set an example for young people by bringing them along when you help others 

Teachers and schools play a vital role in the support of mental health conditions in young people, but they need more help to do it effectively. Our #Headucation campaign aims to train all UK teachers in the basics of mental health support which will allow them to comfortably provide young people with the support they need. 

Help us to provide as many fully-funded training sessions to schools as possible. Help us raise money by donating, buying a product from our store or signing up for one of our training courses. 

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How to talk to children about mental health

At Shawmind, we’re on a mission to improve children’s mental health through our #Headucation campaign. 1 in 6 school aged children has a common mental health condition yet there is an average 10-year delay in getting appropriate treatment due to lack of awareness, stigma, and limited resources.

Many of these common mental health conditions in children and adolescents are treatable, but more importantly, can be prevented before they arise.

By starting conversations with children about mental health, you can help to increase their awareness, reduce stigma and fear of judgement, and increase the likelihood that they’ll seek treatment when needed sooner rather than later.

Adults can often feel uncomfortable talking to children about mental health or fear saying something “wrong”, so here are our tips for talking to children about mental health.

Pick your time

As with any serious conversation with a child, you need to pick the right time to bring it up. Allow yourself plenty of time to answer any questions they may have and make sure you’re in an environment where they feel safe opening up. If you’re a parent/carer, try to have the conversation at home when you’re not planning on leaving soon.

You should also consider the best time to catch the child in the right frame of mind for this conversation – e.g. it may be more difficult to have this conversation when the child is feeling distressed or overwhelmed by something else.

Put yourself on the same level

Nobody likes being talked down to, so try to address the child with respect and informality rather than making it seem like a lecture. It can also help to literally put yourself on the same level as the child by sitting on the floor or on a low chair to be at their eye level and seen as an equal they can trust and confide in.

Be honest

Being honest about mental health is the best way to help children build a realistic understanding of it. Let them know that mental wellbeing fluctuates depending on lots of factors and that it’s possible to have a mental health condition and still feel mentally positive. It can also help to open up about your own experiences with mental health as it makes mental health more relatable and can even make them feel more confident discussing their own mental health.

Keep it simple

Children and adolescents may find it more difficult to understand complex explanations about mental health so it’s best to keep it simple and age-appropriate. Children will likely ask questions if they think something is not clear or fully explained so don’t fear saying too little – especially with younger children. You can always build on your explanations over time as their understanding develops.

A good way to talk to children about their mental health is to ask them to rate their feelings rather than trying to find words to describe them e.g. “How well do you feel on a scale of 1-10?”. You can then follow up their answers with questions to uncover the cause of their rating.

Communicate regularly

Mental health is not a one-time occurrence and nor should your conversations be. Check in regularly with children about how they’re feeling and find opportunities to discuss mental health openly in relaxed settings. The more frequently and casually mental health is discussed, the more it becomes normalised for the child who will then likely find it easier to reach out for support when they need it.

Listen and acknowledge

The final, and arguably most important, tip we have for conversations about mental health with children is to listen to them. If you don’t give them opportunities to speak, it’s no longer a conversation.

Ask questions about their experiences and understanding of mental health and make sure you acknowledge everything they’ve said. This not only shows them that you’ve listened, but that what they feel is valid – making them more likely to trust you in the future.

There are some great resources to help children learn about and manage mental health for themselves. Why not share them after your conversations?

Our #Headucation campaign aims to provide fully-funded mental health training to teachers so that they can provide crucial mental health support to children in schools. Help us by supporting our campaign – buy a product from our store, enrol on one of our courses or donate to our fundraiser.



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