Growing together to support children’s mental health
Children’s Mental Health Week is taking place between the 7-13 February and the theme this year is growing together. As we move through the week, we ask you to set time aside with the young people in your life to think about how they have grown – what skills they have developed, what personal qualities they most admire in themselves and others, and what goals they would like to set themselves for the year ahead.
It’s been an extremely hard time for children and young people with a huge amount of uncertainty and a sustained period of change. Research shows that the experience of the pandemic is likely to continue to exacerbate existing mental health and wellbeing problems among young people. A recent study showed that 1 in 6 young people now have a probable mental illness – up from 1 in 9 (NHS Digital, 2020).
It’s also been a challenging time for parents and carers and fear about their children’s future continues to be a major concern. While these difficulties should be recognised, it’s important to acknowledge the amount of growth we’ve experienced. We should try to encourage young people to focus on that growth mindset and understand that what they’ve experienced, no matter how big or small, positive or negative, has an important part to play in their development and wellbeing.
What can you do for Children’s Mental Health Week?
Children’s Mental Health Week highlights the importance of mental health for children and young people. During the week, take some time to focus on mental health and encourage the children in your lives to think of how they can best look after their own mental health, as well as that of their friends and family.
Growing together is about finding ways where we support each other to develop and open ourselves up. Emotional growth is not linear and is often a gradual process that happens over a period of time. All development has its challenges – we can feel overwhelmed by the prospect of it. However, trying to have a positive outlook and an open mind can support our mental health and wellbeing, and it’s good to remember that getting things wrong is a big part of growth too.
Having a growth mindset enables young people to build resilience. One of my favourite things we cover in our young people’s resilience programme, Bloom, is curiosity, and the role it plays in drawing out a growth mindset. Curiosity is an attitude and it allows young people to be more open to new ideas and ways of looking at things by questioning their current beliefs and values. It enables them to look at the positives when dealing with a tricky situation and explore possible scenarios and outcomes that might differ from original thinking. You can learn more about the benefits of curiosity in our curiosity animation.
Activities you can do with children and young people to discuss growth and set goals
Here are some simple initiatives you can set up to help nurture the young people you know:
- Journaling can be a great way to ask children and young people to reflect on their mental health, looking at times when they found things difficult and keeping track of what they did to support themselves. It’s a great way for them to look back at a challenging time and check in with how they are feeling about it now.
- Create a goal jar. Encourage children and young people to write down their goals for the year ahead. You can help them set it up and add new goals throughout the year. Then next year they can see what they’ve achieved and take pride from that.
- A suggestion box where they can write down ideas about how they can support their friends and family. You can ask other family members to do the same and then share all the suggestions together.
What will be happening during Children and Young Peoples Mental Health Week?
- Access Place2Be’s free resources for Children’s Mental Health Week to help you take part in the week. All of the ideas can be adapted for use in school, for home-schooling, online lessons or independent learning.
- On Monday 7 February, Mental Health UK will be launching our Parenting Hub on Clic. The Parenting Hub was created for parents or carers to connect with other parents. The Hub is a safe environment to share information and advice to support your child’s mental health, as well as your own. You’ll have access to expert advice and a variety of resources to learn about mental health and how to better support your child whatever they’re going through. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to find out how to sign up on launch day.
- Now and Beyond Festival: We are delighted to be delivering a series of workshops across the UK on the 9 February as part of the Now and Beyond Festival, the UK’s only national mental health festival for educational settings.
- Watch the Bloom impact video – if you’re interested in Bloom, our free UK-wide resilience programme for young people (14-18), please go to our Bloom page.
This is a fantastic opportunity for you to reflect on how you’ve grown with the children and young people in your life. It’s important we praise them, and each other, for that growth and notice the role you’ve played in it.
We would like to thank you all for your support over the last year and wish you a happy Children’s Mental Health Week.
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