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Why talk about Mental Health with Teenagers? 

Talking about mental health and mental wellbeing can enable teenagers to feel empowered to talk about how they are feeling. Not talking about it makes it a taboo subject. 
Having worked in adult substance misuse and mental health services for years (25!) taught me that if we could unblock children’s reluctance to talk about mental health, we could save them from (potentially) years of unhappiness, confusion, self-harm, self-neglect, pain …….. 

Mental health in secondary schools 

Mental health in secondary schools is high on the agenda for everyone – it impacts on learning, it impacts on exam outcomes, it impacts on socialisation, it impacts on the teachers, it impacts on the whole family. 
Mental health comes under the remit of Relationships, health and sex education (RSHE) in schools. There is training for subject leads and teaching staff in primary and secondary schools, information about state provided training can be found here: click here 

what should we teach children about mental health? 

What we should teach children through the health education curriculum: 
1. how to recognise the early signs of mental wellbeing concerns, 
ii. including common types of mental ill health. 
2. where and how to seek support whom they should speak to in school if they’re worried about their own or someone else’s mental wellbeing. 
As a parent/carer you’ve made a step in the right direction reading this. There is information about all aspects of talking to teenagers and the first thing is about having the confidence to hear what you may not want to hear! We can’t force children to talk but we can lead by example. Showing that you are open to them talking is important. 

How to recognise early signs of mental wellbeing concerns in teenagers: 

To be able to do this you have to know the child or be skilled at spotting something is different with them. The child may be withdrawn, louder than normal, aggressive, tearful, DIFFERENT or maybe you have only just started teaching them and their behaviour is ‘difficult’ to manage. Working as a collective teachers can recognise in pupils’ early signs. Working in silo doesn’t help, talk to the childs Dr, School, a trusted friend or if you are a teacher/leader develop a in school community feel and sharing concerns about a pupil is appropriate and helpful. 
Children are very rarely disruptive because they want to be, a general rule of thumb is that they are struggling with something; their confidence, their academic ability or something at home. 
What are the some of the 'types' of mental ill health in children: 
self-harm, trauma, death or bereavement, depression, eating disorders and substance abuse or addiction 

The best resources .... 

The best resource a year leader, safe guarding lead, principle can give the staff in a school is communication – knock on their door – talk through what you have concerns about. ‘Sharing is caring!’. When it comes to the mental health and wellbeing of a pupil advice from the appropriately trained person is key. 
Being good at talking or teaching about mental health is the key, get training, call us and talk it through, talk to a trusted friend or in a school talk to your head of department. Being confident and anything is possible. 
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