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“My Voice Matters”: a look back at Children’s Mental Health Week 2024

The theme of Children’s Mental Health Week 2024 was “My Voice Matters”, and we encouraged children and young people to use their voices and share what matters to them.

primary school-aged children in fancy dress standing in a Children's Mental Health Week selfie frame

New YouGov data released by Place2Be

We kicked off the week with the release of new data by Place2Be and YouGov, where we asked children and young people what they want and need to support their own mental health.

The data revealed that 55% of children and young people in the UK say they face barriers in accessing mental health support. This had coverage on BBC Newsround, Sky News and BBC Radio 5 Live.

We also found that 60% of primary and secondary school students say they worry about school work and exams, making it the top worry among children and young people. In response to this, Cecilia Corbetta, Regional Clinical Lead, shared some tips for families on how to support your child with these worries.

Children and young people themselves helped shape the week

In the lead up to the week, we visited schools to ask students what they wanted from the week and the adults involved. This helped shape our messaging to schools, families, parents and carers, and the activities we created for them. For example, our top tips for families, schools and children were written by young people themselves.

In a series of video interviews, students from Ark Charter Academy and Ark Globe Academy shared their thoughts on:

  • mental health
  • what matters to them
  • how they like to express themselves.

We also heard from young people from Childnet’s Youth Advisory Board on social media and mental health, and how they would make the internet and social media a safer place for children and young people.

Pupils from Knightsbridge Primary School, accompanied by Place2Be Ambassador Rhys Stephenson and Place2Be Champion Xavier Leopold, visited the Week Junior. Here, they guest-edited the magazine and recorded their own podcast.

From Star Wars to Sesame Street, stars supported the week

The week also saw stars get involved in conversations around the importance of using your voice. In a short film series, BAFTA Young presenters interviewed TV, film, music and sports personalities as they explored different ways young people can make their voices heard.

In partnership with Sesame Workshop, we released a new video for 2-5 year olds featuring Sesame Street’s Elmo and Place2Be Ambassador YolanDa Brown. ‘Celebrate The Day’ saw Elmo and YolanDa discuss healthy habits to promote positive wellbeing.

In Beano magazine, Dennis, Gnasher and the Bash Street Kids took part in their very own Express Yourself day for Children’s Mental Health Week too.

Cross-sector conversations

The week provided an opportunity for us to have important conversations about children and young people’s mental health and the need for cross-sector connections.

In a joint letter to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), covered in Politics Home, Place2Be and 28 leading charities called for long-term sustainable investment in school-based mental health services.

Alongside the NAHT, we wrote an article featured in TES calling for schools to be given more support for mental health. We also published a guest blog by the National Governance Association (NGA), which discussed ways to create cultures within schools where pupils’ voices are not only heard but actively sought out and valued.

Support from politicians and decision makers

Nearly 100 politicians across England, Scotland and Wales shared their support on social media with the #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek and promoted our resources.

We were pleased to secure a Westminster Hall Debate in Parliament, led by ex- shadow cabinet member for Mental Health, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP.

We were also delighted to have the support of Dame Rachel De Souza, the Children’s Commissioner for England. On the week, she said:

"As Children’s Commissioner, I know how important good mental health and wellbeing is for young people. I am extremely concerned about the mental health of children and young people. Latest NHS statistics show that one in five children has a probable mental health disorder.

"In Children’s Mental Health Week, it is really important that we all stop and listen to what children are telling us about their wants, needs and concerns when it comes to their mental health so we can tackle this issue before it gets even more serious.

"Children often tell me issues with their mental health act as a significant barrier to their overall success, so we all have a role to play in supporting and helping to improve children’s mental health. Only when we all work together will we see meaningful change that will help transform the lives of young people."

School engagement

Schools across the UK (and the world!) took part in the week. From photos and videos of your Express Yourself days, to images of your Swirl drawings of ‘What matters to you?’, it was great to see so many of you embracing the theme this year and helping raise vital funds for Place2Be.

We also saw hundreds of schools take on the Taskmaster Education upside-down challenge – drawing what matters most in the world to them while upside down!

Thank you to everyone who got involved! So far, 687 schools have added themselves to our map and told us how they took part. If you got involved, please do add yourself to our map so we can see how you took part, and how many children and young people took part too.

We want to say a big thank you to players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, The Beaverbrook Foundation and The Prudence Trust, who supported this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week.

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