UK survey of nursery staff on youngsters’ mental health

The UK’s Anna Freud Centre for Children and Families has launched a survey  designed to bring together valuable insights from nursery staff on the mental health and wellbeing needs of under-fives.

It believes that nursery workers are a key source of information, and that their experiences and opinions may well have remained untapped for too long.

The survey asks questions about how often nursery workers encounter children affected by a range of issues, and different life experiences that can affect mental health. Subjects range from family bereavement to different child behaviours or family homelife challenges. It also asks nursery staff about the challenges they may face when managing these needs.

‘Extraordinary range of backgrounds’

Dr Camilla Rosan, Head of the Early Years Programme at the Anna Freud Centre, said: “Every day nursery workers look after and support children with an extraordinary wide range of backgrounds, life experiences and mental health needs. But up until now there hasn’t actually been that much research which explores their views of the world.

“We’d really like to know what their frontline experiences are, and about the kinds of needs the young children in their care experience most day to day. There is also little information about the challenges they face when trying to manage these needs, so we’ll be asking about these.”

According to the UK government’s latest most recent figures, there were approximately 72,000 childcare and early years providers offering 1.7 million registered childcare places, overseen by an estimated 363,400 staff, in 2019.

The survey is project is part of a wider plan to create wide-scale, sustainable change, and to support preventative work with infants and families. Findings will also be used to shape and inform the organisation’s Early Years in Mind learning network.

‘Overarching perspective of what is going on with under-5s’

Camilla Rosan added, “At the moment, most of our understandings of young children are based on research which focuses on the experiences of parents, and also trained mental health professionals who work within early years. But we realise that nursery workers will have the unique ability to offer an overarching perspective of what is going on with our under 5s across the UK. If we take the time to explore their experiences, they could shed more light on the current nature of our nation’s mental health landscape, when it comes to early years.”

The aim is for the survey to be completed by November 13 – click here to access it.

Author: Simon Weedy

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