A big thank you to Caroline Carey for our first guest blog post. Caroline is the Corporate Partnerships Manager from our charity partner Place2Be.
"George was in year 4 when he started refusing to go to school. He lived with his parents and four siblings in an overcrowded home, where he had witnessed abuse and violence. When he did attend school, he showed signs of anxiety and trauma, difficulties forming friendships, and was underachieving in class.
That’s where Place2Be comes in. We are a leading children’s mental health charity working in schools across England, Scotland and Wales. Founded in 1994, we now work in 282 primary and secondary schools in some of the most deprived areas of the UK, reaching a school population of 116,000 children and young people.
In every school we work with, there is a dedicated Place2Be room where one-to-one counselling for children with the most urgent needs takes place. We also offer a service called ‘Place2Talk’ which allows children to book their own one-off appointments during lunch or break times to discuss any worries they might have, and support for parents and teachers so they can understand and support their children’s mental health.
By offering early support to children who might be facing challenges such as bereavement, domestic violence, family breakdown or neglect, we can prevent the downward spiral, equipping children with coping mechanisms and building their resilience, resulting in happier children who find it easier to engage with school and their learning – and ultimately happier, healthier grown-ups.
Luckily for George, help was immediately on hand for him in the familiar school environment. Over time and with the consistency of regular sessions with his Place2Be counsellor, George began to feel safe enough to start to tell his story, using animal figures in the sand tray. He acted out scenes in which baby animals witnessed distressing and frightening scenes of abuse between grown-up animals.
Eventually, George explained that the reason he hated coming to school was that he didn't want to leave his mum alone at home with his dad, as he was scared of what would happen if they had an argument. As his Place2Be sessions continued, he began to learn to process his emotions. He became less anxious in school, better able to learn, and more positive in his interactions with his peers.
Unfortunately we can’t always change the circumstances that children grow up in. But Place2Be support equips children with the tools to cope with challenges they might face now or in the future, and helps to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, teaching our children that it is ok to seek support when they need it.
Across the UK, children’s mental health is a growing concern, with significant unmet need. Among teenagers, rates of depression and anxiety have increased 70% in 25 years, and figures show the number of children being admitted to hospital in England for self-harm is at a five-year peak. We know 75% of adult mental health problems originate in childhood, but with early support that’s easily accessible, we can change a child’s future".