Are schools ignoring early warning signs of mental illness in teens?

Mental health symptoms in 14–16-year-olds are often dismissed as typical teen behaviour. Olive Pellington, founder of OVP Coaching and author of The Path To Success, explains how schools can help their students

It is not unusual for your average teen to be accused of being moody or lacking conversational skills, but did you know that these behaviours could be a sign that they may be suffering from a lack of positive wellbeing?

At this stage in their lives, teens have many pressures put upon them that can prove to be extremely overwhelming and may show up as physical symptoms. Unlike adults, who tend to show more emotional symptoms during times of mental stress such as sadness, children may experience frequent headaches, stomach aches or an overall sense of feeling unwell.

Admittedly, these symptoms are closely associated with sickness bugs that pass from school to school, which is why they are so often overlooked by teachers and parents. If these early symptoms go unchecked for long periods of time a child may begin to show more extreme symptoms such as self-harming, bursts of anger or bouts of anxiety.

At OVP Coaching, we support students who want to take responsibility for creating their own future.

Case studies

At the age of 15, Harvey had been suffering with anger issues and lack of self-esteem when he was referred to the OVP Coaching programme. This is what Harvey had to say at the end of the coaching programme: “I felt like my school was ready to give up on me and my family life was a mess. The school asked me to participate in the programme which I reluctantly accepted.

“The first time I met Olive, I knew she could help me. I didn’t make things easy for her but she made it easy for me to see where I could turn things around. She helped me clarify what I wanted from life, including my family and social relationships. This made me want to make a change for the better especially now that I had gained confidence in myself. I went from being a ‘bad’ student to passing my GCSEs with level 8s and 9s. I’m now at sixth form and doing really well.”

Hannah, on the other hand, was a bright student who pushed herself to do well but for some reason could not hit the target grades she had set herself.

As an overachiever she found it difficult to juggle her studies, social relationships and family commitments. She became overwhelmed and unable to value herself or her accomplishments thus far and so lost her spark.

OVP Coaching has had a massive impact on our students; they have improved in their academic progress, overcome exam anxiety and improved their overall wellbeing

Hannah was referred to us by the school pastoral team at the start of her GCSE years. Here’s what she had to say about her time with us: “I think coaching should be made available to students in all schools because I know it has helped me a lot. I didn’t even know it was a thing until it was offered to me.

“Schools should make students aware that this is something that is available to them. Since coaching I’ve become a lot more confident and I know how to deal with my stress.”

Hannah got the grades she needed for her college courses and has been coping well since. She continues to use the coaching strategies she learned and is now applying to university.

It’s not just the students who benefit from the programme, it’s the schools too. Deputy headteacher of Oriel High School, Helen Everitt, says: “What impressed us most about life coaching for students as opposed to the counselling that most schools put in place is that OVP Coaching always had the academic goals of our students at the heart of each session. OVP Coaching has had a massive impact on our students; they have improved in their academic progress, overcome exam anxiety and improved their overall wellbeing.”

Prevention is certainly better than cure but getting the right help at any stage is better late than never at all. Contact us today and see how we can improve the wellbeing and attainment of your students.


W: www.ovpc4schools.co.uk

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