This section on mental health needs focuses on those children who have already become mentally unwell, have a condition such as autism or hyperactivity which may impair their ability to thrive and learn without further support or adjustment being made by schools, or are on the threshold of being mentally unwell.

It includes information on the different conditions that might affect children, the behaviours that school staff might see that could indicate a child is struggling, and the strategies that school staff can employ to support them.

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It’s quite natural for children to worry and to be anxious at various stages of school and home life.

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Attachment and child development

Attachment refers to a relationship bond between a child or young person and their primary caregiver which is formed in the early years and has a long-term impact on a child’s sense of self, development, growth and future relationships with others.

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Bereavement and loss

Grief is a natural response to the death or loss of someone close.

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Challenging behaviours

Persistently behaving in a challenging way is often how children communicate that something is wrong - or is a sign that they may be in distress.

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Eating problems

Many children go through phases of refusing to eat, being ‘faddy or fussy’ eaters, or having other eating problems.

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Obsessive-compulsive behaviour

Children with obsessive compulsive behaviour (commonly known as OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder) have repeating thoughts, images or feelings that are distressing. They also carry out rituals or habits (compulsions) to temporarily feel better.

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Overactivity and poor concentration

All children may experience problems with concentration and hyperactivity but when these are persistent and/or severe, children may need additional support to maximise their chances of learning and developing effectively.

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Self-harm is when a child intentionally damages or hurts their body. It can become addictive because of the natural pain-relieving endorphins that are released when people hurt themselves, which can give a temporary sense of relief.

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