Children’s Mental Health Week: 1st - 7th February 2021

Children’s Mental Health Week is running from 1st – 7th February 2021, and the theme this year’s is “express yourself” and is raising awareness around why this is so important for our children’s mental health. We have put together our top 5 suggestions for activities to allow children to express their creativity and feelings, and where you can find additional support for your child’s mental health.

The first Children’s Mental Health week was launched in 2015 to shine a spotlight” on why supporting children in this area is so important. The event is organised by Place2Be, the UK’s leading school-based children’s mental health charity who believe that no child should have to face mental health problems alone.[1]

Did you know that around three children in every primary school class have a mental health problem, and many more struggle with other challenges from bullying to bereavement?[2]

In 2020, the NHS conducted a follow up survey around children’s mental health which found that probable mental health disorders were identified in 16% (one in six) children between the ages of 5 and 16 years. This is an increase of 17% when compared to the 2017 report.[3]


Expressing yourself doesn’t mean being the best at something or putting on a performance for others but finding a way to be and feel good about who you are.

Time to let off steam…

By their very nature, children are constantly taking on information and sometimes processing all of that information can be overwhelming. So, having an outlet or activity that allows them to let off steam and relax can make all the difference to helping them feel calm and build their self-confidence.[4]

Or time for some calm…

We can feel anxious, scared, sad or stressed, so it is important to have tools that we can use to help us feel calmer again.
Just like adults, children are all different. While some enjoy shouting or dancing their excess energy and frustrations away, others may prefer to spend time on their own to have some breathing space.[2]
Childline’s calm zone has some great suggestions for activities and tools that you could teach your children to use when they need to and help them feel calm again. You can even use these yourself.

5 ideas for activities to help children to express themselves

Activities provide some enjoyable time with your children and are great way for children to express themselves in a relaxed and happy environment.

Here are our top 5 ideas for activities to help children express themselves to get you started:

1. Helping Hands at work

Have you ever thought, if only I had an extra pair of hands to help me finish this project? Why not bring your child along to work alongside you as an apprentice for the day (as long as it is safe to do so of course)? This is a great way to take their mind off of their worries, learn new skills, and spend some quality time with you.

 

 

 

2. Games

Games are something which can involve the and gives children the opportunity to develop their social and communication skills and relieve stress. Players learn to follow rules, take turns, wait, and allows children to experience both winning and losing, and learn how to deal with both. These are all valuable life skills that help towards maintaining children’s mental health.[5]

You could play board games, have a treasure hunt in your garden, play hide and seek around the house, or even cut some timber to size, let the children paint the pieces different colours and make your own mega Jenga to play.

 

 

3. Being Creative

This list for suggestions here is endless and depends on what creative things your children like to do. Whether it’s Creative Writing, Crafting, Dancing or Listening to music, being creative is a good outlet to express their feelings.
Painting is also a great activity, so why not let the children help you to give your garden an uplift by giving your furniture a fresh lick of paint? Or even get arty doing some papier-mâché with some PVA glue and scraps of paper?

 

 

 

4. Physical Exercise

From playing football in garden to taking the dog for a walk, whatever exercise you choose, make it fun. Exercise causes a release of endorphins which has a positive impact on mood and general well-being.[6] Even just getting outdoors and changing your environment is a good way to improve your mood.[7]

Gardening is a great way to get outdoors and be productive at the same time. So why not let your children help you get your garden looking fresh? You could order some topsoil and lay some new turf, you could even use bark or decorative stone aggregates to add a bit of style. Use some gardening hand tools to clear out those weeds, and lay some fresh weed control fabric ready for some fresh plants. What about getting some paint brushes to refresh your fences with a fresh lick of paint, or even adding some colour to your garden furniture?

 

5. Time Out to Relax

Time out and relaxation can be just as important as physical or creative activities.[8]
There are many different relaxation techniques that you can try from breathing exercises to muscle relaxation when kids are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious.[9] 

 

 

 

 

 


Resources for supporting children’s mental health

Whether you are a school, youth group, parent or just want to get information, you can find further information, resources and other top tips on the Children’s Mental Health Week website.

Further support and help for children’s mental health can be found at:


If you would like to make a donation, please click here. All money donated goes directly to the charity.

Here are some examples of what your kind donations will be used towards:

  • £7 pays for a child to speak with a qualified counsellor about their worries during a lunchtime session
  • £50 pays for a child struggling with trauma to have a 50-minute one-to-one session with a qualified counsellor. During 2020, Place2Be supported 5,501 students this way
  • £200 provides specialist support for up to 10 parents who are experiencing challenges at home, including abuse and addiction
  • £500 allows over 70 children to book their own appointments to speak with a mental health professional about their worries. 39,641 children and young people booked their own appointments last year
  • £1,000 could fund a full round of one-to-one counselling sessions for two vulnerable children

References:
[1] https://www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk/about-the-week/
[2] https://www.place2be.org.uk/
[3] https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/mental-health-of-children-and-young-people-in-england/2020-wave-1-follow-up
[4] https://www.annafreud.org/on-my-mind/self-care/letting-off-steam/
[5] https://plyt.co.uk/5-reasons-board-games-are-good-for-your-childs-mental-health/?v=79cba1185463
[6] https://www.annafreud.org/on-my-mind/self-care/spending-time-in-nature/
[7] https://www.annafreud.org/on-my-mind/self-care/physical-exercise/
[8]  https://www.annafreud.org/on-my-mind/self-care/alone-time/
[9]  https://www.annafreud.org/on-my-mind/self-care/relaxation-techniques/