A good childhood: what we can do

September 7, 2021

The Good Childhood Report

The Good Childhood Report released by The Children’s Society will provide the backdrop for this blog.  We will examine the data, evaluate the current climate and reflect on how Mind Of My Own can help.  Mental health in adult life is significantly affected by childhood wellbeing; reducing the number of young people who are unhappy with their lives and the number who go on to develop mental health issues is, I am sure you agree, something to strive for. Hearing and evidencing the voices of young people by providing them with an engaging digital platform to express themselves, is what Mind Of My Own offers. 

Children and young people deserve to be happy. The good childhood report identifies three distinct areas that are currently contributing to eroding their contentment, “School, friendships and appearance continue to cause the greatest dissatisfaction in adolescence.”

An estimated 306,000 10-15 year olds in the UK are unhappy with their lives

Roughly ¼ million children did not cope well with changes during the pandemic

Young people are particularly unhappy about school and appearance

The report’s findings conclude that 7% (306,000) of 10–15-year-olds in the UK are not happy with their lives. As a comparison, ten years ago the estimated number was 4% (173,000).  Children’s happiness is in an alarming state of decline, this is why it is Mind Of My Own’s mission for all children and young people to have their voices heard and support offered at the earliest possible stage.

The big takeaway, for me, is that regular monitoring of well-being in earlier adolescent is a good way of identifying and targeting scarce early help resources in our communities and should help prevent/reduce some concerning mental health outcomes at 17.  

Richard Crellin from The Children’s Society summaries above how Mind Of My Own can support your schools and services.  The apps and survey tools enable views to be gathered and monitored regularly to identify where early mental health and wellbeing support is needed.  The One app and Express coupled with the accessibility features and our Shout survey tool ensures no child or young person is too hard to reach, resulting in collecting and tracking data from a really young age to early adolescence.

Feelings about school

Unhappiness in school has grown over the last ten years. The pressure for some to adhere to high standards is affecting their wellbeing. Where in the school day is there time for meaningful connections, space to share feelings, recognise and label emotions that come up? And who is this shared with? “The proportion of children unhappy with their school lives has leapt from 1 in 11 ten years ago to 1 in 8.” Schools are under immense pressure. Inviting young people to engage with Mind Of My Own will support schools to hear and evidence their voices and views, provide insights to inform school development plans and be able to offer early help and provision to those that need it most.

Friendships  

Friendships are crucial support for us all.  Sharing difficulties with a friend can help reduce stress and an emotional response leading to new ways of thinking or viewing a problem.  Connections with others removes the feeling of loneliness and can help diminish mental health problems.  “Whilst there was not a significant link between low well-being at 11 and poor outcomes at 17 years there was a significant link between low well-being at 14 and at both 11 and 14.”  The report outlines by monitoring children’s responses regularly will allow organisations to measure and identify those who require immediate intervention.  Detecting low life satisfaction using Mind of My Own’s co-produced questions around relationships and bullying, will provide a window into the lives of those that require support and will have long term benefits for the mental health of young people.

Appearance

Mind Of My Own uses questions that are co-produced with young people.  In the ‘Wellbeing’ scenario it asks: ‘What things do you feel sad or worried about?’ appearance is an emoji young people requested to be included. 

The numbers of young people who are unhappy about the way they look is devastating, boys have become more worried about their appearance.  “Now, an estimated 1 in 8 boys are unhappy with how they look and 1 in 7 girls are feeling the pressure of looking good.”   Young people shared in the research how social media contributes to them feeling unhappy with their appearance and organisations need to do more around positive body imagery online.  Mind Of My Own creates a PDF statement which young people can control who to share with.  This empowers young people, helps build connections and trust, enabling meaningful conversations to be had where help and advice can be offered. 

Optimism

Standing alongside many superb organisations, services, schools and the entire wider community, Mind Of My Own is determined to support the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people.  We are optimistic the figures shared in the good childhood report can be reduced as we all work together, provide young people with engaging platforms to express themselves, so the right support can be offered at the right time and restore levels of happiness in all areas of their lives.