This story was published 23 July 2019

More primary school children in North Yorkshire than ever are being educated on taking care of their emotional health and wellbeing.

School students undertaking wellbeing training

The increase in mental health issues and decrease in wellbeing among children and young people in the UK is of growing national concern and, therefore, helping young people take care of their own health is of vital importance.

A survey by North Yorkshire County Council of thousands of children and young people in the county, the largest pupil survey in the UK, has shown that 86 per cent of Year 6 pupils, aged ten and 11 years old, say they have received lessons in wellbeing, up from 76 per cent in 2016.

Among Year 6 primary school students, 63 per cent of children found lessons about emotional health and wellbeing useful and 96 per cent felt their school took bullying seriously.

The findings are included in the Council’s Growing Up in North Yorkshire survey, for which the council gathered the views of more than 19,000 pupils from the majority of schools and pupil referral services. The survey covers a broad range of issues from health and wellbeing to young people’s learning.

More than half of pupils of all ages surveyed (53 per cent) said they found lessons in wellbeing useful, up from 46 per cent in 2016.

But the survey also found many teenagers in the county were reporting low emotional wellbeing. The findings were in line with national concerns over declining or low emotional wellbeing among secondary students.

The survey identified the proportion of Year 8 to Year 10 students in the highest-scoring bracket of wellbeing was 21 per cent in 2018, down from 25 per cent in 2016.

The council’s Children and Young People’s Service has launched a range of initiatives to improve the emotional health and wellbeing of pupils. This includes Emotional First Aid Training, which initially was introduced for schools in the Catterick area with a high percentage of service families, but has now been rolled out to a total of 36 schools in the county.

The initiative helps staff within schools increase their understanding of the emotional distress pupils can experience and develop positive strategies to support them.  

The council also funds an Academic Resilience project for schools falling within the Opportunity Area on the North Yorkshire Coast, to equip students with personal and emotional skills that will help them achieve their potential.

Cllr Janet Sanderson, Executive Member for Children and Young People’s Services said:  “The voice of our children and young people continues to be a vitally important influence on our priorities and actions.

“The survey demonstrates we are achieving positive results in many areas, not just academically.

“The correlation between wellbeing, school ethos and academic performance is powerful. Many students have reported how education on wellbeing has helped them, which will continue to have a positive impact on their life long after they have left school. This study shows while we are doing many things well, we must not be complacent and will continue to address the challenges and listen to our young people.”