Childcare professionals have a vital role in supporting the emotional and mental wellbeing of their young charges - as laid out in the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Positive mental health enables children to develop their resilience and grow into well-rounded adults - a fact that has been much-documented in scholarly articles.
But what about the Childcare Practitioners themselves? Does working in the sector have consequences for their mental health?
This is something the Pre-School Learning Alliance is keen to understand in the run-up to its annual conference later this year.
To this end, the alliance has launched a landmark survey about mental health in the Early Years workforce.
The survey is open to everyone working in the sector and asks them to share their views on what impact, if any, working in the Early Years has had on their stress levels and mental well-being.
The results will be revealed at the alliance’s annual member conference, taking place on Friday, 1st June.
The event will focus on mental health and the well-being of both children and practitioners in the Early Years sector.
Neil Leitch, Pre-School Learning Alliance Chief Executive, comments: “As a society, we’re more open than ever about talking about mental health – and rightly so.
“And yet, while much research has been done on the impact of working in the primary and secondary education sectors, and in particular, the impact of workload on the mental health of teachers in recent years, there has to date been very little focus on how working in the Early Years sector can affect practitioners’ mental health and wellbeing.
“Underfunding, Ofsted inspections, high workload and poor pay are just some of the challenges facing the Early Years workforce today – and while it is, of course, vital to continue campaigning on a sector-wide basis on issues of concern, we at the alliance believe it is equally important that the needs of individual practitioners, and the impact that working conditions in the sector may be having on their mental and emotional wellbeing, aren’t overlooked.
“As such, we hope that this landmark survey will prompt a long overdue discussion on what is a vital issue, and we are encouraging as many practitioners as possible to take part.”
The survey asks practitioners to name sources of stress, whether work has led to the development of health conditions, if they have taken time off because of stress and mental health difficulties and if they have considered leaving the sector because of this.
The survey can be found at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MindsMatter18 and will close at 5 pm on Friday, 11th May. All individual responses will be completely anonymous and confidential.
This is an important issue which needs investigating further and I would urge anyone working in the sector to complete the survey and make their opinions known.