Children’s Mental Health Week is back in 2023 with the theme ‘Let’s Connect’!
Since its inception in 2015, the children’s mental health charity, Place2Be, has been running Children’s Mental Health Week. Their aim is to start conversations and increase the engagement among children and young people around the importance of mental health and well-being. They do so by introducing a different mental health-related theme each year.
This year the theme is Let’s Connect. Running from 6th to 12th February, it is aimed at making children explore how they can build meaningful connections in their lives to support their mental health and well-being. Healthy connections throughout our life can help us achieve our goals, support us through tough times and help us grow. It is an opportunity to reflect on how important relationships, like friendships, are in making children feel happy and secure.
Mental health, like physical health, is an important factor contributing to our overall well-being. Research shows that 1 in 6 children has a diagnosable mental health condition. Furthermore, as many as 50% of all mental health problems begin at the age of 14. Children’s Mental Health Week is an opportunity to take some time to focus on mental well-being and talk about mental health related topics at home and school. Children are encouraged to think about how they can best take care of their mental health. Whereas parents, carers, and teachers are advised to reflect on their role in supporting children with their mental health.
How are Schools and Organisations Helping?
A number of schools, organisations, charities and youth groups take part in this annual event. Many of these organisations across the UK have tailored workshops and packages to help parents and teachers engage children and young people with mental health related activities and explore this year’s theme. Some of these can be found here:
What Can I Do at Home?
1. The Little Things
Finding little moments to connect and reconnect with children everyday can have a lasting impact on the bond you share. For example, listening attentively about their day when you pick them up from school or having a conversation with them at the dinner table can make them feel heard and connected. Furthermore, engaging in activities your child is doing (such as playing any games or sports) is significant in making children feel supported and cared for. With slightly younger children, it is a good idea to engage in conversation while doing other everyday jobs like driving a car or cooking or even while folding laundry! Creating a space for them to express themselves while doing everyday activities can help ease the process of children feeling connected to you.
Talking to children about the different kinds of relationships in their life can help them feel safe around you in sharing their experiences, good and bad. This includes talking about family members, friends, teachers, neighbours and people in the local community. Children tend to mirror the emotions that they see elders around them experiencing. This is an opportunity to help children see emotions such as joy upon seeing a friend after a long time and sadness about missing someone who lives far away.
In younger people, more specifically teenagers, friends have a huge impact in making them feel and act differently. As a parent or carer, you should be open and attentive to listening about their friendships without any judgement. Asking them about their online and offline life in a way they feel comfortable answering about it can help you connect with them. As most teenage friendships are transformative to a great extent, it is important to show them that you support them and care for them.
3. A Little Interest Goes A Long Way
By taking interest in your child’s world in the form of their fashion choices, music taste, list of books, you create a common ground for them to feel more connected to you. Even if you know little about their field of interests, just being curious and asking them questions to gain more knowledge about it, instead of being dismissive, helps them feel noticed and connected.
4. Family Time
Spending time together or having little family ‘rituals’ like going out for a drive once a week or sitting down to watch a favourite tv show together every night can add immensely to the children feeling connected to you in ways more than one.
5. The Bittersweet Symphony
It is natural and completely okay to have disagreements and arguments that lead to moments of disconnection in the family. At such times, it is important to show that there are appropriate ways to express their disagreement/anger. For instance, teaching them to say sorry and make amends when they are at fault (even if it takes a while for them to see it). Children pick on the behaviours they see around them. So, how you and your partner behave in moments of disagreement, will set a strong foundation for how they express their emotions. Encouraging children to talk after disagreements in healthier ways such as communicating and expressing their feelings can help re-connect more strongly.
Need further help?
If you are concerned about a child or young person’s mental health you can seek assistance via the NHS, but if you would prefer to consider private services please get in touch and we can guide further on options to get some help.
Where can I get more information?
More information about children’s mental health and well-being can be found here: