Mental health has long been a taboo subject- especially regarding children. One Lancashire woman is on a mission to change all of that.
Charlotte Lowe spends most of her time helping schoolchildren to identify and understand mental health. She is so worried about the prevalence of mental health problems in children that she is working with schools to try to address it and wants to see it on the curriculum.
A qualified psychologist, Charlotte is so passion about child mental health wellbeing she has put together her own classroom module which she hopes to see rolled out nationally.
She currently works with two Lancashire schools, Lostock Hall Academy, in Preston, and Albany, in Chorley, and has seen first hand the benefits of having a counsellor on hand in school can be for young people.
She says: “In recent years I have seen a rise in the number of young people presenting with concerns around their mental health, more specifically depression, anxiety and issues around eating.”
She adds: “Many young people are struggling to cope with the increased academic pressures, along with the pressures from social media to look and act a certain way.
“I have seen rates of perfectionism increase in young people, with many setting themselves unrealistic expectations to achieve or feeling like these are being set by those around them. Adolescence is an extremely challenging period for most young people, and what is concerning is that 75 per cent of adult mental health problems are found to develop before the age of 18.”
She says most schools recognise the need to take a “whole school approach” to mental health- not waiting until there is a problem before adopting her model and supporting students’ emotional health along with their learning.
Charlotte says: “I believe early intervention and prevention is key to tackling poor mental health in children and young people.”
To achieve this, and in a comparable way to Lostock Hall and Albany Academy, she says schools need to prioritise the promotion of positive emotional wellbeing and mental health support.
She adds:“Young people need to begin to focus on their achievements and what they do well, rather than concentrating on their what they cannot do or things they struggle with.
“We need to build resilience in young people to enable them to be able to cope with life’s challenges and to help prevent the development of mental health problems in the first place.”