This week is Children's Mental Health Week, a great opportunity to introduce a new writer for Crediton In & Around, Jo Overton Pitts. Jo lives in Crediton with her family and works for Kooth Digital Mental Health.
She will be writing regular articles for us and this month she reflects on how we can support the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people in our lives; whether at school, at home or in wider settings.
Children’s Mental Health Week is a great opportunity to reflect on how we can support the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people in our lives. Each Children’s Mental Health Week takes on a different focus, and this year is Let’s Connect so we are thinking about how children and young people can make connections that improve their mental health.
You may be familiar with the Five Ways to Wellbeing produced by the NHS which talks about the five simple but reliable steps you can take towards living well. These are:
- Keep Learning
- Be Active
- Take Notice
You can find more information about the Five Ways to Wellbeing here These are as relevant and applicable to children and young people as they are to adults and Children’s Mental Health Week focuses on the first of these; Connect. So, what can that look like for children and young people, and how can we encourage and support them to take a step towards making connections?
It's helpful to start by looking at the connections a child or young person has in their life already, as an activity perhaps creating a bubble diagram of the important people and relationships in their life. They could make the bubbles different colours, depending on what category they fall into, such as family, school friends, out of school clubs etc. What this does is help children to see the connections around them, but it might also encourage them to take up more opportunities in particular areas.
We’re fortunate that Crediton has plenty of options for children and young people to develop relationships within different activities, sports, groups and clubs, and these are growing and changing all the time. Yes, some of these cost money, but many are low cost or free. Brownies, cubs, rainbows, guides and cadets can be a great way to make friends outside of the school setting. We also have youth clubs run by the Town Council and the churches, some of which are listed below;
Crediton Youth Club In the old Early Birds building on a Wednesday and Thursday
- Core, Youth Church Sundays, 10:30-12noon (Y7-Y13)
- Wonder, Girls' Group Tuesdays, 3:30-5pm (Y7-Y13)
- Friday Youth, Youth Drop-In Fridays, 7pm-8:30 (Y7-Y13)
Of course, there are also plenty of sports clubs in Crediton, including football, rugby, cricket, swimming, gymnastics and even fencing. These do come at a cost but most activities offer a free, or a reduced cost, trial before committing to signing up.
Not all children and young people are keen on sports. They might find large groups of people cause them stress and anxiety, and for those children and young people there are still options and opportunities to engage and interact in order to feel connection in a very gentle and non-threatening way. I work for Kooth PLC, a digital mental health and wellbeing company, our website www.kooth.com has been commissioned by One Devon and provides an anonymous, free and safe space where young people aged 11-19 can access the following;
- text-based chat support with a qualified counsellor
- message and receive a response from a qualified counsellor
- use mini activities such as journaling and goal setting
- read articles posted by the Kooth content team and other young people
- read, join and contribute to discussion threads posted by the Kooth content team and other young people
An equivalent service is also available for adults 18+ here.
For more information about other local organisations that offer support, out of school activities and groups you can visit Pinpoint Devon. https://www.pinpointdevon.co.uk/parents-and-families/
This Children’s Mental Health Week the best thing you can do is open up the channels of communication with the children you live or work with and provide opportunities to connect with the important people around them or to forge new friendships that boost and strengthen their mental health.