Community supporting children and young people’s mental health
- Credit: Place2Be
This week is Children's Mental Health Week but the impact the pandemic's restrictions are having on young people means it's now more important than ever to ensure we are looking after the mental wellbeing of children and teenagers.
Place2Be launched the first ever Children’s Mental Health Week in 2015 to shine a spotlight on the importance of children and young people’s mental health.
Now in its seventh year, we hope to encourage more people than ever to get involved and spread the word.
From February 1 to 7, schools, youth groups, organisations and individuals across the country will take part in Children’s Mental Health Week. This year’s theme is Express Yourself.
The annual event is a great reminder to set aside time to speak with your children about their mental health, and with home-schooling and lockdowns here to stay for at least a few more weeks, there's never been a better time to do so.
Expressing yourself is about finding ways to share feelings, thoughts, or ideas, through creativity.
This could be through art, music, writing and poetry, dance and drama, photography and film, and doing activities that make you feel good.
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It’s important to remember that being able to express yourself is not about being the best at something or putting on a performance for others.
It is about finding a way to show who you are, and how you see the world, that can help you feel good about yourself.
Around three children in every primary school class experience a mental health problem while many more face challenges including bullying or bereavement.
During the past 12 months, the pandemic has also left kids around the globe facing the same issues as adults, including long periods indoors, no longer being able to see friends and huge question marks over the future.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to raise awareness of mental health in children and encourage them to discuss their feelings.
Children’s Mental Health Week was kicked off by the Duchess of Cambridge, who shared a special video message on the Kensington Palace Twitter account.
“This year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is all about expressing yourself,” she said. “That’s finding creative ways to share your thoughts, ideas and feelings. Whether that’s through photography, art, drama, music or poetry, it’s about finding those things that make you feel good about yourself.”
The Duchess’s video also highlights the importance of parents looking out for themselves during this testing time.
“While this is Children’s Mental Health Week, there has never been a more important time to talk about parental wellbeing and mental health too," she said.
“Last year you told me just how important this was but many of us find it hard to prioritise. This is a hugely challenging time for us all so please look after yourselves too.
“Find those ways to share your thoughts and feelings or find someone to talk to, because we really do need to be the very best versions of ourselves for the children in our care.”
The importance of children and young people's mental health has never been more critical, particularly with what we're all currently going through with the pandemic.
With schools shut for most pupils right now, the way we are living our lives couldn't be more different.
There are ways we can support children and young people to give them the best chance to stay mentally healthy.
Some children and young people have enjoyed being off school, while others will have really struggled – with the coronavirus outbreak keeping them at home and away from their friends.
Locally, many charities, community groups and organisations in Torbay, have a variety of services available to support children and young people’s mental health.
Check out what Play Torbay, Gaia Giving, South Devon College, Punks Against Poverty, Eat That Frog plus others, are doing – there’s so much support and a wealth of knowledge across our community.