Children and Young People's Mental Health Coalition (2018).
Examples of mental health problems which affect our children and young people are:
- Conduct disorders and overactivity
- Anxiety ( affects 8-11% of children and young people)
- Self harm
It is well established that most adult and adolescent mental illness,
can be tracked back to childhood.
Approximately 1 in 4 adults suffer from mental illness.
I am Helen. I live in Wollaston, Northants, with my two daughters and lovely husband. I have worked in many roles - all of which were focused on helping others in some way including: the Emergency Ambulance Service; Paediatric Nurse training; direct work with traumatised children in an Adoption and Fostering team in Children's social services, supporting families who have children with disabilities, and working in Education, supporting children with emotional, behavioural and learning challenges.
All of this led me to a realisation. That realisation was that in the UK, we are failing our children and young people. We are not offering adequate support to children who face adversity, challenges, or suffer with mental health conditions. Funding and budgets in large organisations are not sufficient to support our children.
I worked directly with children therapeutically - 6 sessions? 8 sessions? However many the budget allowed.
I worked supporting families - 4 hours? 6 hours? How long does it take for a family to rebuild connections, find solutions, find their courage, their energy and confidence to improve their situation?
I realised that I COULD support children, I COULD support families...I HAD the skills, the understanding, the compassion, the foundation of knowledge and the desire to make a difference. Why did I feel I wasn't realising this potential? I felt I was letting children down, and I was.
The large organisations I worked for were so restricted by red tape, by lack of allocated funding, by staff shortages, that I, and thousands like me, weren't and aren't able to offer a long term, flexible, non-judgemental, holistic approach to supporting children and their families.
Alongside the professional experiences I had, I was also battling for support for my daughter who's mental health was suffering as a direct result of lack of support, lack of understanding, recognition, input and action from health and education services. We realised that we, her parents were our daughter's only realistic source of the support she needed. We were constantly researching, learning, attending courses, trying new things to help our daughter. I met other parents, children, families who were facing the same challenges and frustrations, looking for the same strategies, courses, techniques that they could use to help their children.
2 years ago, I channelled my energy and passion into developing a project called 'Happy Hearts and Minds'. You can find out more about this project on Facebook at: @InspiredHappyHeartsandMinds
Happy Hearts and Minds offers support to children through a range of interventions, including children's yoga, mindfulness, Tapping (EFT), family workshops, life story work, and much more.
I have reached out to schools, local authorities, children's services. The response I receive is almost always the same - it sounds wonderful, and our children really need this, but we don't have the funding to allocate to it.
Thanks to Pupil Premium Funding, I have had opportunities to work directly with children, in both small and large groups, who were identified within their schools as: 'struggling with anxiety' 'lacking self-esteem', 'struggling to concentrate', 'lacking aspiration', and who could be benefitting from support with their emotional wellbeing. The results were exciting! The progress made by the children was outstanding, and this inspired me to continue to reach out.
Why am I looking for funding?
A wise lady recently suggested to me, that I should perhaps focus on reaching out to parents. This was a light-bulb moment!
PARENTS are eternally invested in their children's wellbeing and that of their family.
PARENTS are the ones who are reaching out to ME, asking for 1:1 or family work.
PARENTS are there to support their children to learn and grow.
So, I am asking for support to develop this service and offer it directly to parents and their children.
- To directly support children and their families - to spend time with them, getting to know them, building trust and an open, professional and supportive relationship.
- To get to know their story, their challenges, and their goals, hopes and dreams.
- To support children creatively to develop an understanding of themselves, their own actions and behaviours and the impact these can have on their own wellbeing and that of people around them.
- To work together with children and their families towards developing a growth-mindset. 'I CAN grow', 'I CAN succeed', 'I CAN make a difference'.
- To give children and families the insight into their role in developing their own emotional and social skills - giving them back control; being more able to form and maintain meaningful relationships; to accept experiences; to manage difficult feelings and emotions; to be calm, resilient, compassionate and develop empathy.
How will this look?
This is a family service, which is open to any children and families, regardless of their circumstances, challenges, and experiences to date. The children and families who access the service, do not need to have a mental health condition, or be experiencing any particular difficulty. At the other end of the scale, the service supports children who have experienced trauma, attachment difficulties, Special Educational Needs, and mental health challenges. Familes will be offered support through (this list is by no means exhaustive!):
- learning and developing Mindfulness techniques
- undertaking exercise together through Yoga practice
- being supported to develop secure attachments through touch, massage, music and storytelling;
- learning relaxation techniques;
- development of a growth mindset within the family.
- Parents and carers will also be supported in their own self-care, through holistic massage, Mindfulness and developing other relaxation practices.
The purpose of teaching mindfulness to children is to empower them with lifelong skills to develop awareness of their inner and outer experiences, to recognise their thoughts as “just thoughts,” to understand how emotions manifest in their bodies, to recognise when their attention has wandered, and to provide tools for impulse control. It offers them tools to use when they feel stressed, anxious or angry, and to respond effectively to the body's natural 'fight, flight or freeze' responses.
Mindful parenting allows us to be present in our parenting, choosing skillful responses to our children's demands and needs, and letting go of expectations. Teaching adults mindful techniques in the context of their parenting, can support them to feel more balanced, calm and relaxed in their approaches and responses to their children.
There has been much research into the benefits of Mindfulness and Yoga, in terms of children's emotional and physical wellbeing - far too much to detail here. However the key conclusions of research undertaken, indicate that high quality, and structured mindfulness interventions, improve mental, behavioural and physical outcomes in youth. These key conclusions, in combination with the well-studied success of Mindfulness interventions in adults, show potential in preventing the poor health outcomes associated with trauma exposure in childhood.
When children learn techniques for self-health, relaxation, and inner fulfillment, they can navigate life's challenges with a little more ease. Yoga, when practiced at an early age encourages self-esteem and body awareness with a physical activity that's noncompetitive. Fostering cooperation and compassion—instead of opposition—is a great gift to give our children. Children derive enormous benefits from yoga. Physically, it enhances their flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness. In addition, their concentration and sense of calmness and relaxation improves. For children, yoga is fun and playful. When children play in this way, they connect more deeply with their inner self, and develop an intimate relationship with the natural world that surrounds them. Yoga brings that marvellous inner-light that all children have to the surface.
When families learn these new skills together, they can overcome some of the challenges which have damaged their relationship dynamics. Using knowledge, experience, insight, compassion and understanding when working with children, young people and their families, we can inspire them to grow together, relax together and accept and love one another.
What will the money be used for?
Premises: - Nurture Nest
The service needs a space, a place of nurture, safety, calm and fun, where children and families can visit. The space itself need to be enriching, and a supportive, creative, physical environment, where children, young people and families will look forward to their visit. The space needs furnishing, decorating, along with equipment and tools to support the work with families.
Donations will be used to secure and create a wonderful space.
I will always ensure that I offer families the most appropriate type of support, which is rooted in the most appropriate training. I am committed to Continuing Professional Development. I would like to offer additional services to children, young people and their families, which will require future training.
Donations will be used to support future training.
To reach families, takes time, lots of effort and the appropriate style of marketing.
Funds donated will be used to support development of a website, and other marketing strategies.
100% of any money donated, will go directly into the development and growth of this project. I am open to any enquiries or questions regarding the service and the use of donated funds. If you've read this far, this cause must mean something to you - whether you wish you had access to a service like this as a child, or as a parent, or for someone you know, or someone you don't know, please consider contributing.
Literally any amount you donate will help.
Thank you so much for your support.
Love, and light,