UK’s first children’s mental health festival for schools and colleges announced

Bonnie Evie Gifford
By Bonnie Evie Gifford,
updated on Nov 5, 2021

UK’s first children’s mental health festival for schools and colleges announced

Young mental health activists will be co-producing the first children’s only mental health festival this coming February

Awareness of ill mental health has increased dramatically over recent years. With more and more of us talking about how we are feeling, we’re creating more dialogues and paths towards seeking help and support than ever before. Yet when it comes to children and young people’s mental health, it can be harder to know where to turn.

One in six children aged five to 16 are likely to experience a mental health problem. According to The Children’s Society, over the past three years the likelihood of young people having mental health problems has increased by 50%. It’s thought that in an average classroom of 30 pupils, as many as five children will experience a mental health problem - while an overwhelming 75% aren’t getting the help that they need. Of those who are referred by NHS services, 34% are not accepted into treatment, making accessing mental health support yet another hurdle they may face.

To mark Children’s Mental Health Week 2022, on February 9th, youth mental health charity Beyond will co-produce the UK’s only children’s mental health festival for schools and colleges. Together with their board of young mental health activists, each who have lived mental health experiences, the festival hopes to reach over half a million children, teachers and parents.

The festival will comprise of a mixture of sessions on resilience, mindfulness, and mental health wellbeing, hosted by a variety of specialists. The charity behind the festival, Beyond, was co-founded by award-winning mental health campaigner, Jonny Benjamin MBE. Beyond aims to provide mental health support to young people, their families, and teachers across the UK.

Children’s mental health in the UK

The number of children experiencing ill mental health has risen dramatically over the past two decades. In 2004, one in 10 children were reported as experiencing mental health problems according to NHS Digital. By 2017, this rose to one in nine. This figure now sits at one in six.

Children’s mental health has long-lasting impacts. 75% of adults with a diagnosable mental health problem have experienced the first symptom by the age of 24, and around half by their mid-teens. For young people, there is an average 10-year delay between showing the first symptoms of ill mental health, and getting help.

Where to find mental health support for children and teens

If you’re worried about a young person’s mental health and wellbeing, it could be worth seeking help. If they have felt unhappy or low for a prolonged period of time, or you have serious concerns about them, speaking with your GP, a trusted person at your child’s school or college, health visitor, or local children’s centre could help. Your GP may be able to refer them to children and young people’s mental health services (CYPMHS) (also known as CAMHS). Types of specialist help, as well as wait times for referrals, can vary significantly from area to area.

The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families has created a video to help explain more about working with young people’s mental health services.

For more information and tips on how you can support children and young people’s mental health, check out Every mind matters. Or for young people or parents looking for more information, help, and support, visit Young Minds.

How can counselling help?

Sometimes, speaking with a professional can offer a way for us to talk more freely without fear of being judged or hurting a loved one’s feelings. This can be true at any age. Working with a professional therapist can help young people of all ages to talk through their concerns in a safe space, with an impartial adult there to help them better understand how they are feeling, develop healthier coping skills, and build emotional resilience.

Counselling can help children and young people with a broad variety of mental health issues and concerns. From managing stress to coping with grief, depression, or anxiety, childhood counselling provides the opportunity for young people to open up about the pressures they are experiencing, express how they are feeling, and receive the help and tools needed to understand what may be causing them to feel this way and how they can change this in the future.

Talking therapy isn’t the only option available. Depending on the situation, young person’s age and situation, other commonly used tools include play and art therapy, as well as drama therapy.

To find out more about how counselling could help your child or teen, visit Counselling Directory.

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