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John Clifford Primary & Nursery School ‘Be your best. Celebrate success. Together we will be successful.’

Mental Health and Well-being

Mental Health and Well-being


Mental illness can affect anyone, of any age, of any background, at any time. Similar to physical illness, people do not choose to have a mental health difficulty. They also need the appropriate care to get better. We have an important role to play in supporting mental health in young children and adults and this is a developing area of focus for us all. 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. (4 Jun 2015)
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are stressful or traumatic experiences that can have a huge impact on children and young people throughout their lives.

Anxiety in Children


Just like adults, children and young people feel worried and anxious at times. But if a child's anxiety is starting to affect their well-being, they may need some help to overcome it. 


When young children feel anxious, they cannot always understand or express what they are feeling. You may notice that they:

  • become irritable, tearful or clingy
  • have difficulty sleeping
  • wake in the night
  • start wetting the bed
  • have bad dreams

In older children you may notice that they:

  • lack the confidence to try new things or seem unable to face simple, everyday challenges
  • find it hard to concentrate
  • have problems with sleeping or eating
  • are prone to angry outbursts
  • have negative thoughts going round and round their head, or keep thinking that bad things are going to happen
  • start avoiding everyday activities, such as seeing friends, going out in public or attending school

Depression in Children


Symptoms of depression in children often include:

  • sadness, or a low mood that doesn't go away
  • being irritable or grumpy all the time
  • not being interested in things they used to enjoy
  • feeling tired and exhausted a lot of the time

Your child may also:

  • have trouble sleeping or sleep more than usual
  • not be able to concentrate
  • interact less with friends and family
  • be indecisive
  • not have much confidence
  • eat less than usual or overeat
  • have big changes in weight
  • seem unable to relax or be more lethargic than usual
  • talk about feeling guilty or worthless
  • feel empty or unable to feel emotions (numb)
  • have thoughts about suicide or self-harming
  • actually self-harm, for example, cutting their skin or taking on overdose

PTSD in Children


Post traumatic stress disorder is a reaction to an event of trauma. It can be an incident that has been experienced or witnessed and symptoms can include:

  • flashbacks or nightmares
  • avoidance or numbing
  • tenseness
  • anger or irritability
  • guilt
  • muscle aches
  • eating and sleeping difficulty