Experts urge children to start talking about emotions when they're young

Susanna Manrique of Recreation Road Infant School and Children and Young People's Mental Health Coalition chair Norman Lamb

Susanna Manrique of Recreation Road Infant School and Children and Young People's Mental Health Coalition chair Sir Norman Lamb - Credit: Susanna Manrique/UEA

Norwich's experts are signposting the significance of protecting the wellbeing of the younger generation.

This year Children's Mental Health week, with the theme of growing together, encourages children - and the adults in their lives - to consider how they have grown and how they can help others to grow.  

Susanna Manrique is pastoral assistant head at Recreation Road Infant School and leads a team that educates and helps four to seven-year-olds with their mental health.

She said: "Our wellbeing curriculum encompasses all of the elements of keeping yourself and others safe.

Susanna Manrique, pastoral assistant head at Recreation Road Infant School

Susanna Manrique, pastoral assistant head at Recreation Road Infant School - Credit: Susanna Manrique

"It's about accepting that all emotions are OK. Sometimes we need to feel angry about things and we need to feel sad moments as well as joy and excitement.

"It's what you do with them that's important.

"Times are tough, and everyone goes through wonky times. We call them 'wonky moments' because there is that feeling that it can straighten out again, it's not broken and can't be fixed."

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Chair of Children and Young People's Mental Health Coalition Sir Norman Lamb added: "The pandemic has probably impacted children and young people more than any other part of the community.

"But we know that even in non-pandemic times that 50pc of mental ill health in adulthood emerges by the age of 14, and about 75pc by the age of 21.

Sir Norman Lamb.

Sir Norman Lamb. - Credit: UEA

"Childhood and the teenage years are a critical period where, if we neglect their mental health and wellbeing, there is a long-term cost to pay. Inevitably, the biggest cost is paid by that individual, but there is also a cost to wider society.

"Many experience quite a lot of trauma in their lives which was been exacerbated with the pandemic.

"Although we can't establish the causal link, we do know that children that experience trauma in their lives are more likely to end up in teenage years experiencing mental distress.

"Working on a preventative basis and identifying those children at school who are at risk of harm and working with families to prevent children experiences that trauma is really important."