The COVID-19 pandemic, national lockdowns and concerns about exams have all increased anxiety and had a negative impact on the mental health of many children in the UK.
Conservative led Wiltshire Council is supporting Place2Be's Children's Mental Health Week which takes place from 1 to 7 February 2021 and seeks to raise awareness of children's mental health and the support services and resources available locally.
According to Place2Be, one in six school-aged children in the UK has a diagnosable mental disorder, an increase from one in nine in 2017.
Conservative Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills said:
Children and young people are faced with challenges growing up normally but growing up during a pandemic puts us all in an unprecedented situation.
"Effective support from an early stage not only helps children and young people cope with challenging life circumstances but can also prevent problems from escalating and becoming more serious in adolescence and adulthood.
"Locally we worked with Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and Barnardo's Healthy Minds Wiltshire to develop On Your Mind, a website which provides free, safe online support for young people, with links to support from other local and national organisations. There is also a new advice page for Wiltshire parents and carers which includes practical strategies to support children with their mental health and wellbeing and there is more support on the Oxford Health website on child mental health.
Wiltshire Council is also working with the West of England Academic Health Science Network to develop MiHub which uses virtual reality to help young people explore their emotions. Royal Wootton Bassett Academy was selected as the pilot school and participating pupils were involved in the co-creation of the programme alongside the technology developers.
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. This year's theme, Express 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.
For Children's Mental Health Week 2021 they are encouraging children (and adults) to explore the different ways we can express ourselves, and the creative ways that we can share our feelings, our thoughts and our ideas.
Place2Be events during Children's Mental Health Week 2021:
· Virtual Assembly, all schools and families at 9am on Monday 1 February
· Online Conference, Creativity as ailing tool: Connecting mind, body and imagination 2-4.45pm Friday 5 February
Place2Be is a children's mental health charity that provides counselling and mental health support and training in UK schools, using tried and tested methods backed by research.
A summary of local and national support available to support Wiltshire schools support emotional wellbeing and good mental health in the school setting.
MiHUB - using virtual reality to help young people explore their emotions
The MiHUB project is part of the West of England Academic Health Science Network's Future Challenges' and focuses on Young People's and Mental Health Resilience.