The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) has developed a new, free online course for people working with children and young people who have social, emotional and mental health needs. It is the only training course that explores the links between these issues that is available for free in the UK.
Across 15 modules, the ‘Mind your words’ training course aims to increase understanding of the links between mental health and communication, and how communication barriers can be identified and removed to help children and young people achieve their full potential. Each module takes about 15 minutes to complete and can be done in stages, so can easily fit around the trainee’s schedule.
Mental health problems affect around one in 10 children and young people and they are at additional risk of having speech, language and communication needs, as there are links between these issues:
- 81% of children with formally identified emotional and behavioural disorders had significantly below average language abilities;
- 45% of young people referred to mental health services had higher order language impairment (difficulties with understanding inference and abstract language) compared to 15% of young people in a comparison group;
- Children with a mental health disorder report having speech or language problems five times more than those without;
- Communication difficulties are a risk factor for developing mental health problems: adolescents with developmental language disorder (DLD) are more likely to have symptoms of depression and anxiety than their peers.
RCSLT chief executive Kamini Gadhok MBE says: “The ‘Mind your Words’ eLearning provides an accessible and easy way for those working with children and young people to recognise how mental health needs often go hand in hand with communication difficulties.
“By undertaking the training those working with children and young people will gain a greater understanding of this area and be better equipped to support them. This has become increasingly important during the pandemic, which has had a significant impact on children’s mental health. So we should all be looking at ways we can better support children to develop the communication skills that enable them to express themselves, form positive relationships and build their resilience.”
The course can be accessed via: https://www.rcslt.org/learning/mind-your-words/#section-1