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Children's Mental Health Week

Children’s Mental Health Week: Express Yourself

The focus of this year's Children's Mental Health Week (1-7 February 2021) is ‘Express Yourself’. It has obviously been a challenging year for our young people and it it is vitally important that we consider not only their physical health but also their mental wellbeing as the two are so interconnected. Emotional wellbeing is the bedrock of health.


express yourself

During virtual tutor time on Wednesday 3 February we focused on Children’s Mental Health Week, sharing with tutees the focus of the action this year. Pupils have been given a series of 'Express Yourself' Challenges that they can do to support their mental wellbeing. Please do encourage your children to engage with these challenges and spend time away from screens and social media.

Languages teacher Mr Lawless recently challenged his tutor group 8DU to write haikus about lockdown, a few of which we share below. Why not write haikus within your close or wider household and then chat about them. If you're not sure what a haiku is, ask your child!

The wind blows calmly
The apple falls from the tree 
The world is silent

- Bella

Cameras are off
The WiFi is cutting out
My laptop is dead
- Austin

Online school is hard
It means I don't see my friends
I hope it ends soon

- Jess
The leaves on the trees
Fluttered in the ice cold wind
Dropping to the floor

Some tutors shared a video clip from BBC Newsround, in which mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin shared the difficulties he faced when growing up - Children's Mental Health Week: Jonny Benjamin tells us his story. When Jonny was younger, he felt embarrassed and ashamed because he struggled with his mental health and was feeling so sad. He also worried what people might think, so he didn't speak to anyone about it, not even friends and family. As we know, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. It is SO important to be able to talk. However, if you feel that you are unable to talk with someone you know, there are many organisations with people available to listen to your worries, such as such as Young Minds, Childline or Stonewall and apps like Kooth.

31% of parents reported that their child’s mental health is ‘worse’ or ‘much worse’ than before the pandemic. 50% of those with lifetime mental health problems first experience symptoms by the age of 14 (source: Place2Be).

We really need to look out for and look after our young people both during and after this global pandemic. There's some excellent advice for parents on Young Minds. Read too about positive tips in a piece we published last month: 2021: Mental Health.

Questions to ask your child - from Young Minds

winter walk

See  Staying Wild and Well from The Wildlife Trusts

Leading doctors have been writing in newspapers about the importance of ensuring that, despite it being winter, it is essential that children and young people have exercise - fresh air leads to reduced stress levels and better mental health. GP Rangan Chatterjee states: 'As a GP, I’ve been prescribing time in nature to my patients for years. Studies show that as well as improving physical health – by bolstering things such as our immunity and eye health - exposure to natural daylight can lower stress and boost mental health.'

Whilst Children's Mental Health Week is obviously focused on children, it is equally important for parents and guardians to consider their mental wellbeing during these periods of lockdown. As parents, our priority is our children's wellbeing and development but we also have to factor in our jobs, our financial situations, our families and our own physical and mental health. Remember to take time for yourself, even if on some days it is only a quiet cup of tea. A primary headteacher’s letter to her parents went viral recently and is well worth reading if you have not done so: Covid home-schooling: Head teacher pens heartfelt letter to parents - BBC News

As mentioned above, in January we published a piece called 2021: Mental Health, which includes tips and links that we hope will be useful for both pupils and parents.  If pupils wish to talk with someone outside of their household about something that worries them, they can contact their tutor or year leader, or their teacher if the questions are curriculum-based. Parents can contact our Pastoral team - go to Staff for contact details.