IT’S ONE of those sayings that is so common we rarely take the time to think about what it means or, in fact, whether it’s actually true: “Your school days are the best days of your life.”

As we grow up, the hindsight spectacles become even more rose-tinted.

The problems of life pile on – finding a job, finding a partner, finding a home, having children and so on – and the further we get from childhood, the more we characterise it as a carefree time when the worries of the world were far from our shoulders.

Which, of course, makes it easy to dismiss the anxieties and concerns of our children as insignificant in relation to our own pressures: “Compared to me and all my issues, what have you got to worry about, child?”

But the small problems of small people can be hugely magnified in relation to the boundaries of their own limited world.

What, to an adult, seems like a very minor matter can take on enormous importance in the mind of a young person for whom it becomes his or her sole focus.

Writing off worries over exams, spots, bullying, relationships, appearance and the like as all part of the pain of growing up is a fair and reasonable approach that in many cases will suit the child and their environment.

But in our modern world with the increasingly intense pressures we heap on our children from an even earlier age, combined with the ever-present and unforgiving microscope of social media, we must be ever more watchful and alive to the signs that all may not be well and those growing pains are not in danger of becoming life-defining mental health crises.

That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with a little stress and anxiety; it’s character-building and it helps to train us to cope with the challenges of adult life. But there are increasing numbers of children who find the pressures too great and who struggle to find ways to deal with them without help.

If we want a balanced, caring, sensitive and functioning society in the future then, surely, we have to ensure that the adults we produce to populate it develop those characteristics through their childhood?

And that means diagnosing the problems at an early age and helping children to overcome or cope with their issues.

It is good to find, then, that young people in Bradford have better access to mental health services than in many other parts of the UK.

The Care Quality Commission says in its latest review that Bradford is beating the national trend and bettering the 18-week minimum waiting guidelines for access to services, with an average wait of 11 weeks (and referrals within 24 hours for urgent cases). In some areas of the country young people are having to wait as long as 18 months.

Bradford is forging ahead in some areas and no doubt the work going on here will help to inform improvements in other parts of the country as the Government’s drive to improve services over the next five years gathers pace.

With Prime Minister Theresa May’s personal interest behind it, £1.25 billion has been pledged by the Government to help change the whole system to improve the mental health and well-being of children and young people.

The focus, naturally enough, has been on ensuring that NHS England provides a clear pathway of care that everyone understands and which can deliver the necessary support and services in an integrated way.

Such work is vital. But more also needs to be done to identify and tackle problems at source and before they develop into crises.

And much of that is to do with thinking again about the way the education system works and easing the pressures that we place on our children through school.

For many, their school days may not be the best days of their lives – but we can make them a good deal better for those for whom they are often the worst.

Judge deserves praise for trying to keep roads safe

JUDGE Jonathan Rose deserves the gratitude of our community for his persistent and consistent efforts to deal with the problem of dangerous young drivers on the streets of Bradford.

His latest 19-year-old subject had been warned last year that he would be locked up if he ignored an 18-month ban for driving without a licence or insurance.

True to his word, the judge sent him down after he was caught in a police pursuit driving at 70 mph on the wrong side of a 30mph road. Let’s hope he gets the message this time.

Why not let residents decide when to put their lights out?

THE AA has rightly raised concerns about plans by Bradford Council to save £110,000 over the next two years by turning out about 6,000 street lights between midnight and 5.30am.

The motoring group’s concerns are focused on the potential dangers on certain roads where driving legally at their higher speed limits in darkness could lead to accidents.

But there are also the dangers of making some areas more viable for criminal activity, especially where it reduces the chances of burglars and muggers being seen, to be considered.

I’m all in favour of reducing such costs and cutting light pollution at the same time – but the notion that residents shouldn’t need the lights on in certain areas because they shouldn’t be walking around there after midnight is a touch too “Big Brother” for my taste.

Surely, such decisions should be taken only by the communities affected?