Children need helping hand to lead happy, healthy lives


Mental illness is on the increase in schoolchildren. Sheffield Hallam University is working with schools to help make children happier and healthier.



[ClickPress, Thu Feb 01 2007] A new initiative to help make schoolchildren happier and healthier has been launched.

Experts from psychology and education at Sheffield Hallam University are working with schools and some children's services in the region to create special programmes to look after youngsters' mental health and well-being.

The most recent survey concerning children's mental health indicated that one in ten children aged five to 16 have a clinically recognised disorder, such as anxiety, depression, attention deficit disorders and autism. That translates to 6000 children alone in the Sheffield area.

Professor of Health Psychology Ann Macaskill fears this is just the tip of the iceberg. She said: "Although we do not have any individual figures for the Sheffield area, the estimated number is likely to be a lot lower than the true figure. These are children with clinical levels of illness. There are a great deal more suffering in silence with a variety of mental health issues."

She blames an increase in educational pressure from a young age and a lack of opportunity for free time and relaxation.

"Often people don't realise that children have special needs, particularly in the area of mental health. The University can play a pivotal role in helping to address their mental health and emotional needs of children. We can offer knowledge of the latest research developments together with expert training to help schools and services devise the best initiatives to help their children."
All of the schools and services that work with children and young people in the Sheffield region have been invited to participate in workshops at the University.

Professor Macaskill hopes that by working together with top experts, schools will begin to tackle the growing problem of disturbed young minds.

"We all want happier children. The emerging field of positive psychology claims that happier people make better citizens and even live longer. With so much focus on young people's anti-social behaviour and unhealthy eating habits, surely we should start with looking after their emotional well-being if we really want to make a difference."

Professor Macaskill is working with Dr Ann Walker, Dr Janet Empson, Dr Lisa Reidy and Dr Janice Haigh.

If you would like more information about the initiative please contact Dr Ann Walker on 0114 225 5814 or Professor Ann Macaskill on 0114 225 2497.
For press information contact Suzanne Lightfoot in the University’s press office on 0114 225 4025.

Company: Sheffield Hallam University


Contact Name: Suzanne Lightfoot

Contact Email: s.lightfoot@shu.ac.uk

Contact Phone: 0114 255 4025

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