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The Learning Institute

The Learning Institute

Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Early Years

A new report recognises the importance of mental health and wellbeing for both children and staff in the Early Years. 

The report, Their challenges are our challenges, from the Anna Freud Centre begins by highlighting the importance of the first few years of life for future wellbeing:

“The early years of a child's life are uniquely important in terms of their development. We know that the first five years are the building blocks for a child’s wellbeing and ability to thrive. The early years can have a direct influence on how brain architecture is formed and how our young children start to develop their understanding of how to interact with the world.”

The report acknowledges the amount of time that staff in Early Years classes and settings spend with young children and the impact they can have on children’s development.  Despite this, the report found that of 900 staff surveyed in the past 3 months:

  • 71% had felt stressed when dealing with the challenging needs of children in their care
  • Nearly three-quarters (74%) had felt unsure of how to support children’s needs. 
  • More than half (53%) reported that they had received no additional training related to early years mental health.

This was against a backdrop of high need where 91% of staff reported that they had been involved in challenging interactions with children who had additional needs around mental health, or personal and social issues.

The Anna Freud Centre is now setting up Early Years in Mind, a network aimed at providing resources and support for issues around mental health and wellbeing in the Early Years.  The network is free to join.  To read the report or join the network, click here.