Worrying survey

They may be happy with their lot at the moment, but a survey of children across B&NES is showing that almost all of them have something to worry about.

The biennial school health and wellbeing survey of students in years 4,6,8,10 and 12, shows that two thirds of them are satisfied with their lives but also revealed that around nine out of 10 children have something that they worry about either a lot or quite a lot.

More than 6,500 pupils from more than 50 schools across the district participated in the 2022 survey.

The survey covered topics such as mental and emotional health and wellbeing, including bullying; relationships and sexual health; substance use; healthy eating; physical activity; and future aspirations.

A video that highlights some of the key data from the survey is here: https://youtu.be/QVNfPR8u2u0

Councillor Dine Romero, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Communities, said: “The great news is that so many of our children and young people are leading happy and healthy lives. The number of young people who smoke cigarettes is at an all-time low in B&NES – and almost all pupils said they had at least one adult that they can trust.

“Worryingly, though, the mental health and wellbeing of many of our children and young people seems to be suffering. These worries include their future, exams and assessments, their family, their mental health, their weight, what they look like and the environment.”

A total of 89% of primary school children, 92% of secondary and 94% of year 12s are worried quite a lot or a lot about something. And only 34% of primary and 30% of secondary pupils recorded levels of high self-esteem.

There is a range of support services in B&NES for families concerned about mental health and wellbeing. These can be found on the Council’s Live Well site https://livewell.bathnes.gov.uk/

Becky Reynolds, Director of Public Health and Prevention at Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “Having a good understanding of how well our children are doing is really important, and this survey provides us with a lot of good understanding. It’s clear that some groups of children and young people seem to be having a harder time than their peers.

“For example, children who are on free school meals, live with just one parent, are young carers or have a special educational need are more likely to feel afraid to go to school because of bullying, have lower self-esteem and worry more about money.”

The study, which is funded by St John’s Foundation, is undertaken for Bath and North East Somerset every two years by the Schools Health Education Unit (SHEU) in Exeter, and many of the participating schools have been involved from the start in 2011.

The information gathered provides the council with valuable trend information about the lives of children and young people in B&NES. It also provides individual schools with a great wealth of data about the lives, health and wellbeing of their students that they can use to develop their provision.