Healthy body, healthy mind?

This week we have been asking lots of questions about health: physical health, mental health, kids health and your health. So, pop on your sweatbands… let’s look at what you said!

Mental health

At the start of the week, we asked you about children’s mental health. You told us that you think stress, bullying, social media, and loneliness contribute most to mental or emotional health issues in children. Fewer than 10% of you think school, exams or teachers are the biggest contributors.

There are interesting regional differences though… Whilst bullying is the top factor in all regions, what comes next differs depending on where you live. For example, 22% of parents in London told us stress is a big contributor to mental or emotional health issues and 14% said social media. In the East Midlands it is the other way around with 27% selecting social media as the main contributor, and 14% selecting stress.

When asked specifically, most of you say that social media has a negative impact on the mental and emotional health of children. Parents of older children are slightly more likely to say social media can have a positive impact, suggesting that social accounts are something that continues to worry you (you’ve told us before that children under 16 should not have social media accounts).

If your children do experience a mental health issue, who would they turn to? Overwhelming you told us that they would turn to yourself or another family member. BUT mums were far more likely than dads to say the children would come to them (70% vs 36%). Some Pingers got in touch to say it depends on which of their children needs the support, so we may come back to this again in the future to get a more accurate picture.

If you or your family would like support with any of the issues raised by these questions, Young Minds is a UK charity supporting children and young people’s mental health.  

Physical health

A new campaign is calling for PE to be prioritised alongside maths and English in school this term, so we thought we’d find out how much physical activity is going on in school right now. Whilst most of you told us that PE / Games lessons are going on as normal, very few sports clubs seem to be running before or after school (when we asked last year, three quarters of you told us your kids normally attend extra-curricular clubs).

In primary schools, 15% of you told us there are extra opportunities for physical activity being provided, but the equivalent figure in secondary schools is only 6%.

How about outside of school then? We asked how many hours exercise your children are doing each week. In the chart below, the red blocks show lower amounts of exercise whilst the yellow show higher. As in schools, older children seem to be getting less exercise than younger ones (especially the youngest who, as one Pinger told us “spend most of their time being crazy running around!”). BUT, mums have a very similar profile to the teens, with 16% (the highest of any group) saying they exercise for an hour or less each week.

Over half of parents of primary-aged kids, and two-thirds of secondary-aged think their children do too little exercise (no one said that their child does too much!). BUT a whopping 75% of you grown-ups think you do too little exercise too (and still no one in the too much category!)

Over half of you report the amount of exercise you normally do is currently affected by lockdown, however one Pinger got in touch to say that the amount of exercise she does has increased during lockdown so we can’t assume that this is automatically a negative thing.

Coming up next week

Let us know what you’d like to answer questions about this week! All of this week’s topics were suggested by Pingers, so keep the ideas coming!

As always,  don’t miss a question… Download the app and set your notifications to PING every day!

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