The headmaster of a school in London has claimed that young children should have more structure in their lives in order to help tackle the increasing number of people who are suffering from mental health issues. Although students and parents are becoming very aware of how to prevent and fight obesity in youngsters, there is growing concern that people remain largely ignorant when it comes to adopting the building blocks of good mental health.
Adam Pettitt who is the head of Highgate School says that televisions, computers and smart phones should be banned from children’s bedrooms and instead, a ‘five-a-day’ style approach to mental health should be adopted.
He expressed that children need clear routines - similar to those designed to boost consumption of fruit and vegetables - in order to insulate pupils from the everyday pressures of modern life. With an increasing number of children suffering from low self-esteem, depression and anxiety, Pettitt says that youngsters need more sleep that is free from distractions such as addictive social media sites.
The concerned teacher suggested that all pupils should follow a basic five-point plan that includes no more than half an hour on the Internet per day, a ban on all distractions in the bedroom and education about the importance of daily exercise. He also recommended that homework is carried out in a communal area with limits on the length of tasks as well as undertaking daily recreational reading to give children’s minds a true break.
Despite the fact that there has been a huge emphasis on mental health disorders in recent years, much of this focus has been on adults as similar behaviours amongst children are put down to ‘teenage angst’. It is estimated however that 850,000 young people in the UK suffer from conditions such as eating disorders and depression.
Mr Pettitt suggested that that one of the many reasons for this could be down to the rise of social media and the decline of traditional family meals. With parents forced to work harder than ever to bring in a stable income, families are finding less and less time to talk to each other and share problems.
Other people may disagree with the idea that more structure in a child’s life is a good thing. Some people believe that children’s lives are already so full of commitments and structured activities that they do not have time to enjoy their childhood.