Supporting children's development
Supporting children's development

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3.2 What triggers mental ill-health?

Mental ill-health can occur for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes a traumatic or stressful event – a death of a close family member, for example – may trigger mental ill-health. However, often poor mental health occurs as a result of a combination of factors, or mental health declines over a period of time, perhaps due to prolonged bullying.

Activity 9

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Note down the events or situations that could trigger mental health or emotional well-being issues in children. We have made a start in the box below.

When you’ve finished your list read our comments.

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Young Minds is a UK charity committed to improving the emotional well-being and mental health of children and young people. Young Minds (2014) found that school-age children were most concerned about issues such as:

  • fear of failure
  • bullying
  • body image
  • the online environment
  • sexual pressures
  • employment prospects.

However, there is not always a clear cause or trigger for issues; and it is important to remember that children react in different ways to challenges in their lives, such as family relationship difficulties, exam pressures, or transitions.

Some children won’t be obviously affected by what is going on in their lives, while others may exhibit symptoms or behaviours that are worrying to parents and other adults they come into contact with. These symptoms or behaviours may be short-term and nothing to worry about or they may denote a mental health issue.

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