Children’s Commissioner
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The Big Ambition for Health: Reflections from my Ambassadors

The physical and mental health of our children in of paramount importance as it lays the foundation for their overall wellbeing and sets them up for future success. As Children’s Commissioner, I want all children to grow up feeling happy, healthy and well, with access to support quickly and locally, when they need it.

The Big Ambition results show that most children agree they can access good healthcare. Similarly, most children feel they have someone supportive to talk to, which is a vital safeguard for mental wellbeing.

The most concerning finding was perhaps how many children, particularly girls, said they were not happy with the way they look.

My young Ambassadors have been sharing their views on each of the themes from The Big Ambition, continuing with health:


The most important part of being healthy is being comfortable. We all experience health struggles, whether that be mental or physical – and both are as important as each other. For people to be able to achieve and succeed they need to not be preoccupied with their health.

An area of health I think is overlooked and not talked about is hidden health struggles. I have personal experience with the hidden health struggle of Chronic Pain and know people who have also faced other challenges and have seen how difficult it is for them. Chronic Pain makes even simple day to day activities very tricky. Society accommodates visible conditions, however those with a similar level of pain can have their conditions ignored or not believed, all because the condition is hidden.

There needs to be greater awareness of hidden conditions and to help people who are struggling there needs to be greater teaching, kindness and compassion. If you see someone sitting down on a bus, it is worth giving them the benefit of the doubt – you might not be able to imagine the pain they are experiencing in that moment.


The mental and physical health of young people has been increasingly present in our national consciousness, and yet the path forward often remains unclear. We watch as the unique challenges this generation faces when it comes to health become ever more saturated: we are the first generation to grow up using the internet, we are the first generation to grow up perpetually aware of world events, and how do we reconcile with that?

It’s a cliché to blame phones and the internet for the deterioration of young people’s mental health – whether we like it or not, they are a fundamental facet of society that is not going away. Instead of trying to resist this, we must adapt and be flexible to the rhythms of a technological 21st century world. The reforms and changes we make must therefore reflect this.

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