This section of the site helps school staff understand the many risk factors that may challenge and undermine children’s mental health.

It also helps schools understand what they can do (on their own and working with partners) to help build good mental health and resilience, and reduce the risks that can harm children’s mental health.

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Bullying and cyberbullying

Children will often have arguments and fallouts with other pupils. Getting over these is an important part of learning about relationships and developing social skills. Bullying is very different. It is usually targeted behaviour that is repetitive, persistent and experienced as hurtful, or intended to be hurtful.

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Child abuse and neglect

Child maltreatment is any action causing potentially significant harm to a child. Maltreatment can be initiated by an adult or a child. It can involve physical, sexual, verbal or emotional abuse; neglect or exploitation.

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Family problems

Demographic and societal changes over recent decades have led to much greater diversity and complexity in family forms. Children today are more likely to experience parental separation, lone parenting, stepfamilies, half-siblings and new family structures.

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Family violence

Family or domestic violence or abuse can be physical, emotional, psychological, financial or sexual. It can include any situation where someone is forced to alter their behaviour due to fear of their partner’s reaction.

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Poor parental mental health

Many parents/carers who experience mental illness are excellent parents. With the right support, it’s perfectly possible to manage mental health issues without it affecting parenting.

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Parental substance misuse

Not all parents who drink or take drugs damage their children, but studies highlight that children living in such family circumstances can often be at higher risk of harm, neglect, exploitation, poorer mental health and life chances.

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Poverty and unemployment

Children living in poverty often lack material resources which can affect what they eat, their participation in activities, the clothes they wear, family stress levels and optimism, where and how they live, and their access to proper healthcare and high-quality education.

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