Children’s Mental Health Week is as important as ever in 2021 with the United Kingdom coming into its 11th month of lockdown. COVID-19 is disrupting the world leaving many adults worrying about finances and job security, so it is easy to be distracted in regard to how the pandemic has affected children all across the UK.
Place2be is a children’s mental health charity. The charity was founded in September 1994 to provide emotional support to children from a young age. Dame Benny Refson DBE is the founder of the charity, who took drew inspiration after a councillor was placed in a primary school by a family unit service. Last year alone, they were present in 700 schools in England, Scotland and Wales.
Over the 26 years as a charity, they have accomplished a remarkable amount, including Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cambridge, becoming a royal patron for the charity in 2013.
Place2Be offer training in schools as well as support and counselling for children. They established the first Children’s Mental Health Week in 2015 to help raise awareness of metal health and the support that is available for any children who are struggling.
These awareness weeks are set to encourage families to open up the conversation of mental health support. Each year has a different theme- this year is self-expression. The charity are encouraging the children and adults to find a way to express how they are feeling.
There are many ways this can be done: through drawing, playing, photography, music… the list is endless. It is just about finding out what works best for the individual.
Props, such as books, is another useful way to help children understand mental health. An example being ‘Arlen the anxious alpaca’, a children’s book written by Laura Matthews.
Laura is a mental health nurse, and this book looks to help explain anxiety to younger children. It also contains tips for adults. The main aim is to be a helpful resource with children and families suffering with anxiety.
This week is good to reflect on how to promote positive mental health all year round. This can be done by active listening, being present, being patient, have family time and model forgiveness.
Viewing the children’s behaviour could be a window to view how they are truly feeling. This year has been extremely difficult considering the uncertainties surrounding youngster’s routines, as there has been no school and some may be left feeling isolated.
These tips can be used all year round to help nurture a child’s mental health. So, spend time with your children, play with them, read with them, tell them you love them. Do different activities with them during this pandemic.
The pandemic has shown how fast life can change but being the stability to the child throughout it is important. Fun can still be had during lockdown.
Children’s mental health week 2021 is running from the 1st to 7th of February. For more information visit the website at https://www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk/about-the-week/ .