Impact of Child Mental Health Issues on the Future Workforce

For years, studies have shown that mental health problems can lead to a variety of negative outcomes, including poor physical health, strained social relationships, and low mood. Two recent studies published by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC-UK) have now found that mental health issues arising during childhood can also lead to adverse affects later in life, specifically with regards to the workforce.

Both reports include analysis of the National Child Development Study, which examines 98 percent of births in England, Scotland and Wales during a week in March 1958, with participants followed up throughout their lives.

Several interesting findings were revealed in the reports. Firstly, children as young as 7 who show signs of depression, worry or withdrawal are more likely to be unemployed at the age of 55. Children displaying mental health problems just once are also at an increased risk of being permanently sick at 55. Furthermore, children reported for disobedience, aggressiveness or bullying on at least three occasions have an increased risk for unemployment and permanent sickness. These findings have an important impact on how we view poor mental health in the workplace, and reveal the necessary steps needed in order for poor mental health to escalate from childhood and into adulthood.

Researchers who conducted the reports by ILC-UK are calling for mental health strategies to adopt a 'life course approach' by ensuring good mental health provision across all ages. As Jenny Head, lead of one of the research teams, puts it: “We hope our findings will inform strategies to reduce inequalities in employment rates of older workers, including support for both children and adults with mental health problems.” David Sinclair, ILC-UK director says: “It is clear from this research that some of the drivers for unemployment in our 50s are determined very early in our lives. We must ensure that mental health strategies focus on supporting people of all ages. Early intervention is key if we are to ensure that people can continue to work into old age.”

Recently, the Government pledged a “radical shake-up” of mental health support in schools, including more than £300 million for “thousands” of new support staff. £95million will be designated for schools to appoint and train senior leads for mental health from 2019. They will be responsible for coordinating support within schools, helping children to access specialist therapies and NHS treatments, and developing a “whole-school approach” to mental health and wellbeing. Another £215 million is promised for new mental health support teams, which will work with the NHS to offer support and treatments in schools. The government is aiming to recruit “several thousand people” over the next five years, and they will be supervised by clinicians and work with educational psychologists, school nurses, counsellors, and social workers. Education secretary Justine Greening states that mental health issues can have a “lifelong impact” and affect young people’s “performance at school, careers, and ultimately their life opportunities.”

Early interventions in schools have a positive impact on the way children grow and develop. Here at Altruist Enterprises, we recognise this and will continue to work with schools and businesses to promote and support good mental health across all age groups.

We are experienced in providing Resilience and Mental Health Awareness training to pupils and staff in schools. Check out our Youth Mental Health First Aid and Half-Day Youth Mental Health First Aid courses. We also run we run Mental Health Workshops for Schools and Senior Mental Health Leading Training For Schools.

Anna is a student writer and volunteer at Altruist Enterprises. She is currently studying a BSc in Psychology at the University of Birmingham. Having had personal experience with poor mental health herself, Anna is passionate in helping others who are experiencing similar issues. Working with Altruist Enterprises allows her to do just that.

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