Young minds matter

Today Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge took on the role of Guest Editor of the Huffington Post UK, to help launch the Young Minds Matter campaign.

Young Minds Matter is a global initiative that seeks to explore some of the issues surrounding the mental health of children as well as raise awareness about the important work being carried out by people and organisations striving to make a difference.

If a child broke their arm or had an ear infection, we would not think twice about talking openly about it to others and seeking treatment. Why then, when children are faced with a myriad of mental health issues such as anxiety (one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health difficulties in children) depression, autism, ADHD, conduct disorder and more is it so different?

When it comes to a child’s mental health we must not fixate on the medical terms and formal diagnoses. Rather, as Eamon McCrory, Professor of Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology at UCL points out, we must view mental health, “in the sense of children being lively, curious, and playful, of feeling valued and loved. That is what mental health really means. When children are anxious, acting out, impulsive, or struggling to concentrate we must see this as a communication of need. These children need our help. They need adults, at home, in their school and in their community to be interested, to listen, to provide predictability and safety and care.”

For far too long, the mental health of children has been overlooked and it is time for that to change. As The Duchess writes, “The mental health of our children must be seen as every bit as important as their physical health. For too long we have been embarrassed to admit when our children need emotional or psychiatric help, worried that the stigma associated with these problems would be detrimental to their futures.”

It is heartbreaking that figures indicate that 1 in 10 children need support or treatment when it comes to mental health issues. As Sir Tony Hawkhead, Chief Executive of Action for Children explains, “It is up to all of us to make sure that children and young people, regardless of family circumstances and social status get the love, support and guidance that will lead them into adulthood with the resilience they need to cope in life.”

Children deserve to be happy and we need to do everything in our power to help them now, in order for them to become the healthy and resilient adults of tomorrow.

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