This week has been children’s mental health week focusing on the theme “My Voice Matters”.
Why does it matter?
- Children with SEND are 4 times more likely to experience mental health issues in comparison to their peers. (NICE statistic)
- A study of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’ in 2011 found that children and young people with ASD have an increased likelihood of mental health conditions with around 70% meeting this criteria.
- Communication Barriers – difficulties expressing wants, needs, opinions and emotions can contribute to frustration and heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
- Behaviours of Concern (Boc) can be misinterpreted as linked purely to their SEND, rather than any underlying mental health issues. Understanding the function of a child’s BoC is essential so that we can understand if there are underlying MH concerns.
- Barriers to accessing mental health services – including lack of understanding co-occurring mental health and SEND as well as lack of specialist professionals and long waiting lists.
- Bullying and social isolation – children with SEND are more vulnerable to bullying and social isolation, mainly due to lack of social awareness and understanding intentions of others, negative attitudes from others and less access to community activities contributing to low self-esteem and emotional distress.
Led by Laeba our Emotional Wellbeing Practitioner, as a school our staff have been reflecting on their practice and how we can empower and equip our children with their own “voice” so they feel they are able to communicate their needs and navigate the world around them in order to support their wellbeing.
In class our students have been participating in a range of activities to build their self-esteem, sense of self and sense of community. Completing “all about me” information sheets, using symbols to choose their likes and dislikes, looking at their own strengths and abilities and using lots of different communication devices to express their needs with the school community and in their classes.