TG Escapes Blog

Get outside for World Mental Health Day

by TG Escapes | Oct 10, 2014 | Blog, Education

As this Friday is World Mental Health day, we thought it represents a good opportunity to think about the mental well-being of children in Britain today and to explore ways in which it can be improved, in an environment where public mental health funding is sadly lacking.

More than 800,000 children and young people in the UK have been diagnosed with a mental health condition and it is estimated that only around a quarter of these are receiving the treatment they need. A report compiled by the NHS earlier this year noted that just 6% of mental health spending is allocated to services aimed at children and young people, even though half of lifetime mental illness starts by the age of 14. It is estimated that 30% of British people experience some degree of mental illness, every year, and the World Health Organisation predicts that depression will be the second largest cause of ill health in Western Europe by 2020.

The emotional well-being of our children is every bit as important as their physical and educational development. Good mental health is an essential pre-requisite for a child’s ability to learn and thrive in the hustle and bustle of school life. It allows children to develop the resilience to cope with life’s ups and downs; to reach their potential and grow into happy, healthy, well-rounded adults.

There are, of course, many factors influencing the mental health of a child, many of which are rooted in their family and home environment. However, there are a significant number of contributors to the mental well-being of a child that are within the realm of their schools. These include regular exercise and good physical health; having the opportunity to play, indoors and out; being able to learn and given opportunities to succeed; acquiring the ability to solve problems and assess risk and, finally, having a sense of belonging to their school and community.

We, at the Learning Escape, have a fundamental belief that experience of the outdoors confers a multi-faceted enhancement of children’s physical development, emotional health and mental well-being. Our view is supported by a growing body of evidence that demonstrates that contact with, or even simply looking at, natural spaces has a profound effect on our state of mind.

Contact with nature has been proven to result in recovery from stress and attention fatigue. Typically, the symptoms of these all too common afflictions include: memory loss, diminished ability to focus, irritability, frustration and impatience. Ringing any bells? Furthermore, being outside has been shown to significantly improve self-esteem, self-confidence and social interactivity, particularly for those with learning difficulties.

Looking at children more generally, playing in a natural environment has a demonstrable impact both upon their physical health and their socio-economic development. It allows them to test their boundaries and take risks; generates a sense of freedom and adventure and teaches them important lessons in how to interact with other people. What is more, engagement with nature is known to improve discipline and concentration.

If you would like to find out more about the powerful impact that nature can have upon your pupils’ well-being, we invite you to take a look at our Whitepaper, The Outdoor Environment. Delve further into our site and you will find that with a little planning and a good dose of enthusiasm, you can boost the mental health of your pupils no end, not to mention improving their ability to learn. And, out in the fresh autumnal breezes, you might find you blow away a few cobwebs of your own.

About the author

TG Escapes
Providing net-zero timber frame buildings since 2003. As a gold member of the Structural Timber Association we are fully compliant to design, manufacture and build giving us full control of the quality of all the timber components in our system.

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