PLACE2BE LAUNCHED the first ever Children’s Mental Health Week in 2015 to shine a spotlight on the importance of children and young people’s mental health. Now in its seventh year, the hope to encourage more people than ever to get involved and spread the word.
Place2Be is a children’s mental health charity that provides counselling and mental health support and training in UK schools, using tried and tested methods backed by research.
The physical and mental wellbeing of young people is the concern of the nation. Here, two mothers tell The Voice some of the challenges of raising children during the pandemic.
Maya, 41, is from south London and has three children aged 7, 4 and 2
Maya told The Voice: It is difficult to reflect on the last year and coming months without using terms that haven’t already been exhausted.
Many adults struggle to find the words to encapsulate how they are feeling so it’s safe to assume that children aren’t able to communicate how the sudden and extended disruption to life as they knew it is affecting them.
I have a great appreciation for physical activity as an outlet for managing stress and I know how much it can help to alleviate stress so keeping them active is one of my bigger concerns for the children right now.
I appreciate Joe Wicks’ contribution to physical health of the nation right now, but I don’t want them doing star jumps in my front room.
What I want for my children are the basic levels of activities that have been denied by the restrictions.
I want the half-mile walk to school where we talk about the day ahead and state our affirmations.
I want the half mile walk home from school where we chit-chat about the day until we get to the top of our street where a foot race to the front door is likely to ensue. I want the reassurance that she and her classmates are playing and socialising during break time.
I recently took the children out with me for a trip to the local recycling centre for no other reason than to get them out of the house.
They didn’t leave the car the entire time that we were there, I just brought them out for a change of scenery.
As we left the centre and approached a junction, I asked my eldest, ‘should we go home the long way or the short way?’ ‘The long way,’ she said. ‘I just want to be out for a little bit longer’. Such is the magnitude of the restrictions.
We haven’t gotten everything right on this journey. In the spring it was easier to get them out for regular walks but as the days got darker and the mercury dropped, we struggled to find the motivation to bundle them up for a walk around the block.
Conscious of my short comings, I have decided to commit to two things: ensuring that the children are taking a daily multivitamin and getting them out of the house at least two days a week. It’s not perfect but it’s what I can do in the circumstances.
Deborah, 38, is from Herefordshire and has two boys aged 6 and 3
Deborah told The Voice: Getting the boys out once a day come rain or shine has been a priority for us. I literally schedule my workday around their time outside.
Sometimes we walk, sometimes we cycle but I think it’s the least we can do in terms of offering them some sort of consistent physical activity.
Even though we have done this for almost a year, this I still worry about my eldest. He recently expressed to me that ‘he’s tired of being here’ which I gently asked him to talk through with me.
He said that he misses swimming and the other activities he used to participate in before the restrictions. He is also struggling to understand why our extended family haven’t been to visit in so long.
So the daily walk is imperative for us – whether it’s sunny, rainy and/or biting cold, I just want to at least give the boys a blast of fresh air and make sure that they have a little freedom to run around and burn some energy.
I’m also very grateful for our back garden as they have somewhere safe to play when I’m stuck on calls or preparing their meals. Despite this, I really hope that they can get back to doing the activities that they used to participate in as soon as possible.