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World Mental Health Day 2022

The 10th of October marks World Mental Health Day, which aims to promote mental health and wellbeing as a global priority.

The World Health Organisation reports that an estimated 1 in 7 (14%) of 10- to 19-year-olds experience mental health conditions, yet these remain largely unrecognised and untreated. Here we explore the leading factors that affect young people’s mental health today and the valuable role school pastoral staff can play in spotting students whose mental health may be at risk.

Background: Young people are spending more time online

Online usage is increasing amongst our children and young people. According to the eSafety Commission, Australian teens spent an average of 14.4 hours each week online – just over 2 hours a day. For New Zealand, the numbers are higher with a third of teenagers spending 4 or more hours online in an average day. Much of this activity takes place on social and gaming sites or apps. Access to smartphones also exacerbates their appetite for such platforms as a way to connect with their peers while at home or on the go.

43% of Australian teachers and principals¹ believe technology enhances learning activities and, if used with intention, technology can be transformed from a distraction to an effective teaching tool. This indicates that the internet will continue to be an important educational tool for teachers.

We know that the internet provides many benefits to our young people, both as a way to connect socially and as a valuable learning tool. However, without proper safeguards, it can adversely affect mental health and expose young people to new risks and dangers.

The risks to mental health: Gaming and social media

Two platforms that continue to increase in popularity, yet give rise to mental wellbeing concerns, are gaming and social media. The addictive and dynamic nature of each continually exposes young people to new risks online.

For example, online gaming can give way to increased anger, lower social interactions and poor sleep. Social media can lead to increased stress and anxiety, exposure to online bullying, feelings of exclusion or struggles with self-worth. It can also expose young people to dangerous content relating to self-harm or even suicidal ideation. Sadly, we continue to see headline news of children influenced by such content and the tragic consequences it has.

The challenge for busy pastoral staff

Whilst pastoral staff and teachers do their best to prevent such dangers, having oversight of what every student views or shares in the classroom through physical monitoring alone is a real challenge. Classroom computer configurations and the number of students to physically watch over make this near impossible.

Therefore, many dangers young people are exposed to online are invisible. The good news is, there is support available to make these invisible risks visible.

Digital Safeguarding: Spot students with mental health concerns

Digital safeguarding software, such as Linewize Monitor, provides a vital safety net for busy pastoral staff when it comes to spotting students with mental health concerns. It combines technology and a team of highly-trained human moderators to alert safeguarding staff to any student suspected to be at risk based on what they do, say or share in their digital lives, 24/7, 365 days a year.

Serious risks such as suicidal ideation or online bullying can all be picked up in real-time if a student has used their keyboard in any way to view content, message someone, look for information or type out their feelings. Even if they delete it immediately or never press ‘send’ or ‘enter’ it can be picked up. In 2021, Linewize Monitor helped to detect a child at serious risk every five minutes.

Through quick intervention and detection of risks online, at Linewize we believe it’s possible to spot students at risk online and in doing so, improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people.

We’re here to support schools on this mission. If you’d like more information on how Linewize Monitor can help to protect students at your school, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

We’re ready to help.

Learn More About Digital Safeguarding Technology

¹ Source Tradewind Australia

Topics: teens on social media, self-harm, bullying, online gaming, mental health, suicide, Gaming, depression, at-risk students, School internet monitoring, wellbeing, cyberbullying, well-being, digital wellbeing, Social Media, digital safeguarding

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