Children's Mental Health Week 2024
Children's Mental Health Week, taking place from February 5th to February 11th, 2024, serves as a crucial opportunity to shed light on the significance of children and young people's mental well-being. The central message for Children's Mental Health Week 2024 is "My Voice Matters." Promoting engagement with children to help them express themselves.
This year's theme is particularly poignant as it revolves around empowering children of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to collaborate in creating positive change for their mental health and overall well-being. But It also is promoting the importance of communication and collaboration with our young people, something TMH strongly believe in and actively aim to promote generally.
Why "My Voice Matters"?
At the heart of this year's campaign is the belief that every child, regardless of their circumstances, should feel heard, valued, and understood. So we believe from reading the lovely material released by the campaign, it's about creating an environment where children feel empowered to express their thoughts, feelings, and concerns openly. This extends to parents, caregivers, and others actively listening and responding to what matters most to the children they support.
Here Are Some Empowering Tips for Encouraging Children to Share
Creative Expression Through Arts and Crafts:
Encourage children to express themselves through arts and crafts. Provide them with various materials and let them create something that represents their feelings. This can be an excellent way for them to communicate when words may feel challenging.
Distraction Activities for Comfort:
Sometimes, children may find it easier to open up while engaged in an activity. Provide distraction activities such as puzzles, games, or outdoor play. This creates a relaxed atmosphere, making it more likely for children to share their thoughts naturally.
Ask Open-Ended Questions:
Instead of asking yes/no questions, pose open-ended questions that invite children to elaborate on their feelings. For example, ask "What made you happy today?" or "Tell me about something that worried you."
Create a Safe and Non-Judgmental Space:
Establish an environment where children feel safe to share without fear of judgment. Assure them that their thoughts and feelings are valid and respected, fostering a culture of open communication.
Storytelling and Role-Playing:
Engage in storytelling or role-playing activities where children can create characters and scenarios. This allows them to indirectly express their thoughts and emotions through creative storytelling.
Provide journals or notebooks for children to write or draw their thoughts. This private space allows them to reflect on their feelings independently and can serve as a valuable tool for initiating conversations about their well-being.
It doesn’t have to be with you:
Make sure they know other trusted adults they can talk too. It might be there’s something to big and scary to share with you, but maybe sharing it with someone else can help them find a way when they’re ready.
Children's Mental Health Week 2024 is not just about acknowledging the importance of mental health; it's a call to action to ensure every child believes that their voice matters. By incorporating these empowering tips into daily interactions, we can contribute to creating a world where children feel heard, supported, and able to express themselves freely boosting their confidence and self-esteem. Together, let's champion the mental well-being of our young voices and empower them to speak confidently about what truly matters to them. There’s more information for this wonderful campaign via.: https://www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk/
Book of the Month
The Colour Monsters by Anna Llenas
This book uses different colours to represent different emotions, helping children understand and identify their feelings.
The Whole-Brainchild: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
This book offers practical strategies for parents to understand and support their child's emotional development.
Womble has been enjoying socialising and playing games at Suffolk Canine Creche, an important part of his training for socialisation and more.
Womble has currently begun his work and training with a few patients on a weekly basis. Womble is often at the centre on Thursdays and some Fridays. He’s often found chilling with members of the team behind reception, and loves coming out to say hi to patients and visitors who ask to meet him.
As you can see, he takes his work seriously...
Email Womble a question you'd ask a therapist if you could!
Womble will ask a TMH therapist to answer questions in our next article!
The Water Bottle Story
Can you grasp the importance of a water bottle, or any ordinary object, to a child?
This month's main blog theme centres on the significance of a child's voice. Let's share a story illustrating how vital a child's voice can be, even when it seems to revolve around the most random or 'ridiculous' of things. It underscores the need for us to be attentive listeners and thoughtful thinkers.
A young boy, midway through his primary school journey, had to change primary schools, and his water bottle was special. Many of us may remember how it feels to start the first day of school at that age. It can be exciting for some, and daunting for others. Getting used to new routines, uniforms, adults, peers, and beginning to learn more about socialising and hopefully starting friendships. Figuring out how things work, and for many, working out where we fit in.
Some of you may have experienced moving schools in your primary/junior school years, or supported children during this transition. Everyone is different; some flourish, others struggle. There are so many helpful ways or tips to help a child settle into a new school, from buddy-up practices to introduction days. Often, though, we just need to observe and guide when they need us, and let them know we’re there.
The Best Gift Ever!
This young person didn’t come from the wealthiest backgrounds historically, but things had changed, and for a long time, he’d wanted this branded water bottle he’d seen on YouTube (No, not Prime Drinks!). He didn’t usually ask for things like this. But he’d pestered, begged, and pleaded for this bottle. Always met with a 'No, that's final'. 'A normal bottle with squash will do'. His reasoning not even thought of or asked for.
However, for his birthday, which was soon after starting his new school, he got the bottle. Not the latest version, but to him, it was like a gold brick of awesomeness, worth jumping around and screaming about more than when opening the rest of his gifts (some expected to be far more triggering of excitement). He proudly insisted on using the bottle every day for school, filling it up himself each morning after rinsing it and taking it to bed each night too.
Much like a child attached to a toy or teddy, this bottle, easily overlooked by adults, was indeed an item of comfort and great importance.
R I P Bottle
Sadly, one day, when climbing into the car after school, this young person’s bottle fell out of the bottle holder of his bag. He was so busy and excited talking of his day, he hadn’t noticed. Although he’d taken well to the new school according to the teachers, he’d been experiencing some difficulties fitting in with others, making friends and navigating new social norms.
Not heard falling, unneeded from thirst in the moment, the bottle was overlooked and then soon ran over by the car. The weird pop sound, dismissed as something other by the boy and his dad. It was only once home when realising the bottle was missing, did the pair then realise what must have happened, and to the little boy's terror, what the sound was.
The Bottle Blues
Even before it was later confirmed the bottle was indeed a victim of crushing, the child was distraught, with endless tears, sniffles that went on until bedtime. “My life is over”, “this is the worst thing to ever happen”, “I’ll never be happy again”. Powerful words over such a basic object, an item of convenience? However, the boy was just too upset to find his words to give reason for why this bottle was just so important. Threatening to not go to school because of it, and how life wasn’t worth going on.
Realising just how important this bottle seemed to be, a new one was soon ordered online. It was hoped a new bottle, the latest version, would be a good enough substitute of the original. However four long days until its arrival, there was much sadness, negative talk of school and anywhere else, the trauma for the loss of this bottle was not going to be forgotten.
On day four post the passing of the bottle, the boy, with true sadness said he’d had terrible play times, and didn’t feel he could play with anyone and no one wanted to play with him. He’d spoken of struggling to find people to play with because everyone had been friends for so long already and he felt he didn’t belong.
The special package arrived the next day for afterschool, a day late but in one piece. The branding obvious, this little person opened the box with HUGE excitement receiving his surprise. Suddenly the end of the world was pushed back for another day and all was well again, with a literal tear unable to contain their joy. And then it came “I can be with my friends again”.
It transpired, not only was the first bottle the first experience of ‘a dream come true’, a gift he’d wanted and thought was unobtainable, making it feel all the more important. It was also something some other children had he was able to talk with them about and start building friendships with at school. Something shared with others who he otherwise felt different from. It soon became a friendship membership card, with a big group of them being ‘bottle buddies’.
Without it, he lost confidence to continue these new friendships, as he’d lost his membership card. In his world, when talking about his new bottle and what it meant to him, it appeared he believed only lucky and fortunate children or adults got to have these bottles! When his was lost to him, taken by cruel chance, all his luck and fortune, something that made him special and visible to others had been lost too. It held part of him, not just his water.
As a child who experienced much change and many losses of important people and attachments in the past, that prevented forming and maintaining many potentially lasting relationships for most through no fault of his own, this is quite important to not become or feel lost among and to others.
Despite peoples efforts to counter these feelings and be supportive of his experiences, with some believing potential worries or fears had been avoided, the experiences remained in his unconscious and conscious thoughts. And the bottle symbolised all this and more.
When your child expresses untypical levels of emotion, to or about anything, particularly when displaying heightened responses and behaviours for them (or the lack of), stop and think; ‘why that?’, ‘why now?’ and ‘what might that mean?’ Then find a way that works for them to help them talk about it. Because you never know what you might learn, and how important it might actually be.
(The author can't believe they wrote this many words about a bottle. And this was the shortened version!)
Something going on locally
HUG A LAMB!
We thought it would be nice to share something that’s happening locally that’s mental health related or positive in the community as a general good mood booster. And this week we stumbled upon this event happening for a week from 15.02.2024.
Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm in February half term are open for the season with their lamb cuddling event. Details from their page as follows.
- “We will be open every day 1000 - 1700 and there is no need to book
- Lamb cuddling will be on daily from 1000 - 1300 and 1400 - 1700. The break in the middle allows the lambs to rest and play
- The Baylham bunnies will be in the bunny barns at various times through out the day ready to meet you and have a stroke
- Come and groom the Baylham goats
- Our Kune Kune pigs love a belly scratch! Come and give them a good brush
- Come and groom the Baylham ponies and donkeys
- Molly the Middle White sow is due her piglets ready for the half term!
- The Cattle yard kitchen will be firing up the Baylham BBQ and the NEW Pizza oven, serving a range of delicious breakfast and lunch options
- The Farm Café will be serving a range of filled rolls, snacks, cakes, drinks and soups
- The Farm shop has a lovely range of gifts and local treats”
Find the link here to their Facebook Event Page to learn more about fee’s and where to go. https://www.facebook.com/events/7211790058866390
Some research has shown the positive impact on mental health hugging and stroking a pet or animal (so long as you’re not allergic or scared of them of course!) can have. Here’s a lovely example where you could do just that with your family or partner over the half term week.
This is not an experienced endorsement of this specific event, but an idea for consideration. Please do search to find something similar elsewhere or nearer to you if you wish.
If you would like your event or campaign shared that promotes family wellbeing, mental health and family engagement, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we may include yours on next months issue or on our social media.
Monthly Mental Myth Buster
Myth: Mental health problems only affect adults really.
Fact: Mental health issues can affect individuals of all ages, including children and adolescents. Actually, a large proportion of Mental Health conditions in adults, started prior to adulthood during adolescence (or earlier!) but went unrecognised or not treated properly, if at all.
LGBT+ History Month
February also marks LGBT+ History Month. This year, the focus is on Medicine – #UnderTheScope
The 2024 theme celebrates the contribution of LGBT+ individuals to the field of Medicine and Healthcare, both historically and today. We may not always realise it, but many historical figures who have been influential and impacted lives have also been members of the LGBT+ community.
At a time when hate crimes have increased, not decreased, we feel it’s important to remember that no matter your sexuality or gender, everyone is capable of amazing things, past and present. Let's allow people to be themselves and celebrate their success and kindness such as the incredible individuals this campaign brings light on, lifting any shadows due to differences. Please spend a little time to acknowledge the remarkable people yesterday and today improving the life of others.
Find more information of this important campaign, and listen to some remarkable stories of those within the LGBT+ community. https://lgbtplushistorymonth.co.uk/lgbt-history-month-2024/
Something to do....
Each month Womble would like to share an activity idea parents and adults can do to promote engagement and positive attachments with their children. This Month it’s;
Cooking Together: Plan and prepare meals together, allowing children to participate in age-appropriate tasks such as measuring ingredients, stirring, or decorating.
Set aside an afternoon each week to share your culinary skills or learn to make something new together.
If you cook something up with your child soon after reading this blog, please send us pictures of your fabulous creations or post them on our social media!
Email Womble a question you'd ask a therapist if you could! Womble will ask a TMH therapist to answer questions in our next article!
Mental Health News this Month
Suffolk Night Owls mental health support line to close
Suffolk Night Owls, a vital mental health support line, faces closure due to funding cuts, leaving service users disappointed and distressed. Operating for nine years, the service provided crucial assistance from 19:00 to 01:00. Users express gratitude for its invaluable support and express anger and heartbreak at its closure. Despite this setback, Suffolk Mind remains dedicated to mental health advocacy and comments on it’s dedication to ensure service users find support. Full article can be found here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-68166546
Here is a short list of mental health related phone services available in Suffolk/UK:
· Samaritans: 116 123
· Shout Crisis Text Line: Text "SHOUT" to 85258
· NHS 111: Select Mental Health Option 2
· Childline: 0800 1111
· CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably): 0800 58 58 58 (5pm -12am) Are you a mental health service in Suffolk/East Anglia with some Important news? We particularly love successes and good news? But all news is welcome. Email as and let us know, you may find yourself in our next newsletter!
Do you want to link our blogs to your school or organisational website?
Our newsletters and our blogs are for the general public domain and free to use. All we ask is you use our logo/original link within your own creations.
Design A Bookmark Competition
Since providing well over 60000 Bookmarks locally to schools and children’s services. TMH have decided it’s time to add a new addition. And as we did before, we would love some input from the people they are intended for.
The winning design will receive a £50 Voucher for a store of their Choice!
Find Full information on our webpage here on how to enter:
This is a great activity in for the upcoming half-term or a fun thing to do as part of World Book Day coming up in March!
This is open for all children, schools and children’s services in Suffolk and its borders.
We are looking for a design with advice you would give another child or teen of school age, who is feeling something difficult they need support with that we haven’t already covered below.
We like the idea of ‘I am feeling angry’, how about you?
We can’t wait to see your wonderful ideas!
The winner will be announced via TMH’s midmonth newsletter in March and via social media after world book day as follows.
World Book Day: Thursday, 7th March, 2024.
Entries to be received: Thursday, 14th March, 2024
Winner Announced: Monday 18th, March 2024
Teenage Mental Health's Mission:
At Teenage Mental Health, we hear often about the challenges of navigating waiting lists and thresholds for care by those who knock on our door. Our team comprises highly qualified therapists dedicated to providing exceptional services for individuals wanting better for themselves or their children looking for the best mental health services. Whether we are your first port of call, or you’re someone who may feel stuck and frustrated in accessing timely support.
Operating on a not-for-profit basis, profits are not our motive; your mental health is. Teenage Mental Health prioritises your well-being. While we do charge for therapy, as sadly, no government body funds us, our sole focus is ensuring that you and your child receive the care you need.
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