Children’s mental health: Key learnings from The Good Childhood Report 2021

Children's mental health
Every year The Children’s Society produces a report which pulls together a number of research projects. In particular, the 2021 report relied on the research conducted by the University of Essex (in their Understanding Society project) and the Millennium Cohort Study run by the University College London. It heavily focused on the impact of the pandemic on children’s mental health and some of the key findings were stark reading regarding the happiness of young people in the UK;
  • An estimated 306,000 10-15 year olds in the UK are unhappy with their lives.
  • Roughly ¼ million children did not cope well with changes during the pandemic.
  • 1 in 25 (4%) of young people have struggled with the upheaval caused by Covid.
  • Young people are particularly unhappy about their appearance, with 1 in 7 girls and 1 in 8 boys unhappy with how they look.
  • There was also significant discord with how young people viewed school, with 1 in 9 saying they were unhappy at school.
  • 7% of 10- to 15-year-olds (an estimated 306,000 children) in the UK are not happy with their lives. This is up from 173,000 young people 10 years ago.

Perhaps the most worrying conclusion of the 2021 report was that children who were not happy with their lives at 14 were more likely than others to have symptoms of mental ill health by the age of 17.

This indicates again the importance schools play in putting in stringent preventative measures, promoting positive mental health, removing stigma and where necessary identifying, supporting and referring those in need additional support.

What can I take from this as a school or college Designated Senior Lead of Mental Health?
  • Consider your preventative measures – Have you taken the time to sit down and consider you aware of your universal prevention, selective prevention, and targeted prevention? Do you cover the topics that were highlighted above – appearance, change and if a student seems unhappy?
  • Looking at these 3 different preventative layers, before you consider where you could improve them, how do you evaluate them?
  • This is part of looking at quality assurance. Consider, do you quality assure any of the mental health support in your setting from resources in classes to external support (paid for and third sector)?
  • Is there a trusted adult for each student and how do we know if a student is unhappy?


Picture of Adam Gillett
Adam Gillett

Assistant Principal - Inclusion
Penistone Grammar School

Picture of Shelly Masters
Shelly Masters

Psychology teacher, Learning and Development Manager

Let's work together to support good mental health and wellbeing in both children and young people

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