Understanding the significance of mental health on World Thinking Day

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February 22, 2024

This World Thinking Day we’d like to focus on children’s mental health and how the introduction of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can have a huge impact. Celebrated annually on February 22nd, World Thinking Day serves as a poignant reminder of the power of thought and the importance of the global community coming together to shed a light on certain topics. In this thought leadership piece, we delve into the significance of World Thinking Day focusing on children’s mental health, with insights from Johnny Morton, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist (CBT) at Blue Mental Health Support. Johnny talks about how World Thinking Day is relevant in the field of mental health.

How do you believe promoting awareness of CBT on World Thinking Day can positively impact children’s mental health in schools?

CBT is fundamental in helping us understand how our thoughts, feelings and behaviours are interconnected. Changing the way you think, and what you do, can help you to feel better. Raising awareness as well as teaching children alternative cognitive and behavioural strategies, can help prevent them developing common mental health problems. Promoting CBT as opposed to other modalities, where appropriate, is extremely important as it has a wide-ranging research evidence base. This shows the effectiveness of CBT for many different people and problems and is widely recommended across the world.

How can educating school staff in the benefits of CBT for children help them [school staff] to improve the way they think themselves during their practice?

Evidence shows that mental health problems have a direct negative effect on student performance, learning and wellbeing. As our children spend a great deal of their time at school, it is extremely important that all school staff understand the basic CBT strategies to ensure that they can spot if a child is struggling and respond effectively, using an evidence based approach.

On World Thinking Day, schools often focus on promoting kindness and compassion. How do you integrate these values into your therapeutic approach to support children’s social-emotional development and mental well-being in the school environment?

What we often find when we drill down into our own thinking styles, is that many of us use self-critical thinking as part of our internal narrative. Teaching kindness and compassion within a CBT framework promotes wellbeing and healing by encouraging people to be compassionate towards themselves and others. As a result, children learn how to manage their moods and gain knowledge which helps them decrease anxiety and negative self-talk.

In what ways do you incorporate discussions about different cultures, traditions, and perspectives into your CBT work?

CBT is idiosyncratic and therefore, no two peoples’ thoughts, feelings and behaviours will be exactly the same. By providing time for an individual to understand themselves in this way, better allows us to take into account their specific cultural needs. A robust CBT approach should help a child understand every part of who they are and where they come from.

Can you provide examples of activities or interventions you’ve used to help children develop empathy and understanding for diverse cultures and backgrounds, especially within the school setting?

One of the core pillars of the whole school approach to mental health centres around inclusivity. Therefore, creating an ethos and culture within school, whereby acceptance becomes the norm is key. This can be achieved by studying and learning about other cultures, actively and respectfully listening to others from diverse backgrounds and reflecting on one’s own biases and assumptions, to name but a few.

In regards to mental health, this day serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative potential of thought and the collective responsibility we hold towards nurturing our children’s minds and our own minds too. As we commemorate World Thinking Day, let us embrace its spirit of reflection and compassion, igniting positive change in ourselves and the world around us.

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