This week marks Children’s Mental Health Week. The theme for 2022 is ‘Growing Together’: helping children to grow emotionally and finding ways for them to help each other grow as well.
‘Growing Together’ feels like a particularly relevant theme after the challenges and adversity that our children and young people have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus exacerbated existing inequalities, reduced vital resources and supportive pathways, and forced our children and young people to adapt, be flexible, and become activists for their own development. In the wider community, people also continue to struggle with their mental health, financial difficulties, and domestic abuse.
The Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership launched the Are You OK? campaign back in 2020. The campaign focuses on helping people find the support they need as well as offering information about services, either for direct support or for advice, during the pandemic. Its key message is simple: let’s all look out for one another, and keep an eye on our friends, family, and neighbours, particularly through tough times.
During the height of the pandemic, we held a workshop to understand the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people’s mental health. Today, to support Children’s Mental Health Week, we’re promoting the services that can support children and young people the most, at times when things are overwhelming or not OK at home, and they don’t know who to turn to. Resources such as Children’s Mental Health Week’s website are invaluable for children and young people, but also parents, carers and school and youth groups.
We are committed to continuing to listen and talk about mental health, as well as making sure the support is there when people need it the most, to help our children and young people feel safe and make sure they are given the right support to grow into happy and confident adults. Later in March 2022, we will be launching participation guidance within education and youth settings across the city, to encourage children and young people’s voices to be heard in the conversation about health and sex education, as well as the personal, health and social education curriculum.
Find out more about how to spot the signs that someone might be struggling, and the local support services that are available on the Are You OK?, which is part of the Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership, including a specific page for Children/Families on their website, and through local organisations including Off The Record.