Connecting the dots between mental health, consumerism and climate change
One in eight young people aged between 5 and 19 years old has a mental health disorder diagnosis. The average age for the onset of depression in 1991 was 41. It is now 14…
Let’s just sit with those two facts for a moment and think about how they feel to read. How is it that we have got to this point? What can we do to support our young children going through such turbulent mental distress? And what can we do to prevent these statistics from growing ever higher?
Right now, our students are faced with more pressure than ever before - from exams to social media and body image, leading to a worrying increase in the number of students experiencing anxiety and stress. Pressures on local services and a lack of resources available for school staff to help students with their wellbeing needs is then leading to an increased strain on schools and teachers to offer support. We are working with a wide range of practitioners, schools and advisors to develop long-term preventative strategies for positive emotional wellbeing.
Much of the embedded work of ThoughtBox is built around developing social-emotional intelligence and connection, helping schools to focus on PREVENTION of mental and emotional health disorders. Feeling disconnected (whether from themselves and their sense of worth, from each other or from the natural world) is one of the biggest contributors to mental health distress, and we now have over 30 years worth of research showing the intrinsic link between connection and wellbeing, whether that’s feeling connected to nature or more in tune with our own bodies and minds. Research from the NHS and government Mental Health practitioners, Sustainable Education organisations and educators all point to positive connections being key to young people’s emotional development. Wherever the connection, it is crucial to support our children growing up in rapidly changing global environments.
On 30th April, ThoughtBox Director Rachel spent the day at a student wellbeing conference in London, sharing ideas on ways to support mental health and wellbeing in schools. The day offered a range of workshops, talks and interactions from different practitioners, with inspiring sessions from some of the leading figures working to support mental health in schools.
Workshops from Sarah Griffiths, Deputy Head at Caterham School and Oliver Welsby from Brightcore were particularly poignant, both sharing a wide range of research and practical guidance to support wellbeing in schools - and both highlighting the value and importance of empathy and connection in our schools. Throughout the day, practitioners reiterated the importance of embedding empathy and connection into the curriculum and school framework, and it was positive to hear the confirmation of the value of ThoughtBox’s work in schools.
The following day, we headed to Bristol to listen to the inspiring George Monbiot talk about the intrinsic links between climate change, consumerism and mental health. His insightful lecture connected the dots between so many of the issues our young people are facing (again using connection as a tool for mental wellbeing) and allowed the audience to explore and understand just how intrinsically linked so many of the issues are that young people are facing. He also pointed out just how much responsiblilty our children are shouldering in our current climate, with many having to leave school and go on strike to teach politicians a lesson, stepping well beyond the role of childhood in an attempt to have their voices heard.
Critical thinking, Empathy. Connection. Once again, these three themes were so prevalent in George’s session, sharing the inherent value and vital importance of conversation to allow our children to start sharing some of their anxieties and worries BEFORE they become a big issue. Hiding from the world will not help any of us, and the more we can do to create safe spaces to allow our children to share their thoughts, and to encourage them to talk and connect, the more we will be doing to support their long term emotional wellbeing. This sort of learning can’t wait.
*Whilst we wait for the video of George talking in Bristol to be uploaded, we’ll share a similar talk he gave a year ago: