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A message from Matt Dunkley CBE:

11 October 2019 weekly update

11 October 2019

This week, Matt introduces the first DfE State of the Nation report on children's mental health.

Dear Colleagues

State of the Nation report on children’s mental health

To mark World Mental Health Day yesterday, the DFE launched the first State of the Nation report on children’s mental health.

Many of the findings will not come as a surprise to Headteacher colleagues as they describe friendship, school and a good night’s sleep named as key factors in a young person’s happiness.

More than four in five young people aged between 10 and 24 say they are happy with their lives, rating themselves happiest with their family and friends, their health, their school and their appearance. Bullying, including cyberbullying, remains a key reason for unhappiness or poor wellbeing, especially among teenage girls, while sleep and leisure time were also reported as important factors.

The landmark research fulfils a government commitment to bring together the best evidence on children and young people’s wellbeing, identifying trends and drivers so that the right support is in place to help them fulfil their potential.

The State of the Nation report, which collated the responses of more than 7,000 young people aged from 10 to 24, identified trends that reinforce the government’s emphasis on mobilising mental health awareness and support in schools, including:

  • 94% of children felt happy with their family, 91.6% happy with their friends and 94.5% felt they had good or very good health;
  • Most young people are happy with their lives, with 82.9% reporting high or very high life satisfaction;
  • Age is a clear factor of wellbeing - being older was associated with lower wellbeing;
  • Young females were more likely to report that they were recently anxious than males;
  • Bullying had the strongest link to teenage girls’ emotional wellbeing across adolescence, with seeing friends and getting enough sleep also rating highly;
  • There are marked gender differences with experiences of cyberbullying - females report higher rates than males;
  • Women report lower satisfaction with their leisure time than men; and
  • Social media did not have a strong association with teenage girls’ psychological health.

In Kent we have the benefit of the ‘Headstart Kent’ programme. This programme, supported by the Big Lottery Fund helps and guides young people to cope better when faced with difficult circumstances in their lives, preventing them from experiencing common mental health problems. There are resources for schools and practitioners on the Headstart Kent website

Matt Dunkley CBE
Corporate Director
Children, Young People and Education