Crossroads School principal Val Witt discusses mental health issues experienced by children

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The Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns have disrupted children’s lives in so many devastating ways, with everything familiar to them changing almost overnight.

These are the words of Val Witt, the principal of Crossroads School remedial school. She said that despite the best intentions of parents and guardians to protect their children from physical and emotional harm, the unprecedented time the country has gone through in recent years has had a significant impact on the mental health of children, with increased levels of childhood anxiety across the world. plank.

She added according to a recent report by the South African Child Gauge 2021/22, between 10 and 20% of children and adolescents in the country were likely to have a diagnosed mental disorder, with anxiety reported as one of the problems of common mental health. experienced by children.

“Parents should note that occasional anxiety is normal and children naturally experience fear and worry as part of their development. They are often introduced to new and unfamiliar situations at their age, and their brains do not “is not developed enough to handle the associated emotions. As a child grows, matures and adapts to new situations, they learn coping mechanisms and their anxiety should generally decrease,” he said. she declared.

Witt added that while all children could experience anxiety, some were naturally more anxious and overwhelmed by feelings of fear, loneliness and worry, leading to difficulty concentrating, a racing heart and the heavy feeling of an “elephant sitting on its stomach”, among other issues.

Unfortunately, anxiety presents inconsistently and often goes unnoticed, leading to consequences and lifelong struggles. The Child Gauge report would point out that half of all mental health problems in adults have their origins before the age of 14 and 75% before the age of 24, making early prevention and treatment essential.

“As parents, teachers and therapists, we have a window of opportunity to put in place interventions to support children struggling with anxiety. The extent to which a child feels accepted, included and valued in their school contributes to their social-emotional development and their motivation to succeed. Our school’s motto is Leave no one behind, our promise to our children and parents is that our team of dedicated professionals are committed to creating an environment where children can thrive.

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