It’s a sad fact that 10% of children now have a diagnosable mental health condition such as depression or anxiety. In an average primary school of 300 children that’s 30 children who could have a medically diagnosed condition that impacts their mental health. That’s a full class of children in itself!

This figure may not even be showing the full extent of the mental health challenges our young people are facing today. It’s believed that as many as 1 in 5 children struggle with a form of psychological disorder (1). These numbers are huge, so what can we practically do to make sure that children in our care get the support they need?

The systems around children provide protective factors against mental health problems. A warm and inviting school culture with staff who have good relationship and communication skills is key. Teachers are like parent figures in children’s lives, the messages that we give to children help them to create a view of themselves and impact on their self-esteem. Much can be done within these relationships to give children good foundations for mental health. For further information click here.

There are challenges that some children face that require deeper and more intensive work. This is where your professionally trained Play & Creative Arts Therapist comes in! We believe that every primary school should have one.

A Play & Creative Arts Therapist (e.g. Dramatherapist, Art Therapist, Dance and Movement Therapist etc.) is specifically trained to help children explore experiences that are impacting on their mental health. This can be across a whole spectrum – from short term issues like exam stress and pressure at school, to things that have been deeply disturbing for children including abuse, neglect and violence.

The benefit of having a qualified Play & Creative Arts Therapist in your school is that they can work with any issue that you might be facing with a child. There is no situation where Play & Creative Arts Therapy will not be beneficial. Because the approach is so child centred, we can meet the children exactly where they are developmentally and find ways of working with them that are gentle, non-threatening and effective. Play is a child’s first language and therapists are skilled in using play and creativity to unlock traumatic experiences in order to help children heal.

When you have a Play & Creative Arts Therapist within your school, you have the ongoing support of someone knowledgeable and experienced who can advise on the best way to help a child who is struggling. No more sitting on a waiting list for months on end, only to wind up with 6 sessions of talking therapy for a child. The control of the support you provide for your children and young people is well within grasp when you buy into age appropriate therapeutic services.

Therapy is not a quick fix, but we do know that when we work with children in this way the change is deep and lasting. The experience of therapy will stay with children forever and help them to reach out in the future when they need support. Not only does it help children concentrate in class, it reduces behavioural, emotional and social challenges too. Our data shows that children who work with a Clear Sky therapist experience 28% reduction in behavioural difficulties, 24% in emotional difficulties, 21% in peer difficulties and 15% in hyperactivity. They also show 12% increase in kind and helpful behaviours.

We understand how hard it is for schools to find appropriate support for children; you don’t have to search any more. Get a Play & Creative Arts Therapist in your school and you will have what you need at your fingertips!

For additional training for school staff in supporting children’s mental health check out our Emotional Regulation and Behaviour Support training which can be delivered as an INSET within your school.

We can provide the ultimate mental health package for primary schools through our services. We deliver one to one Play & Creative Arts Therapy for children in need, Playful Parents Programme (a 10-week parent group teaching Play Therapy skills to strengthen relationships with children) and training for school staff in Emotional Regulation and Behaviour Support. With all three services, you will have the mental health provision in your school covered and we are more than happy to work with you to support the development of Mental Health Policies, school culture documents and school values that are supportive of positive mental health.

Get in touch today to find out how we can help.

(1) (Venables (1983); Rutter, Cox et al (1975); Jeffers & Fitzgerald (1991); Porteous (1991) etc.)