Helping to support our children and young adults with their mental health can be tough. Even in an age where talking about our mental health is on the increase, the resources to support our children and young adults are stretched more than ever.
The most recent NHS data (2021/2022) shows that an increasingly high number of young people are struggling with their mental health and that children’s mental health is getting worse since Covid-19.
- Over 3.5 million young people aged 6-23 years old in England have a probable or possible mental health disorder.
- Urgent referrals to crisis care teams were higher in March 2022 than any other time since 2019.
- 4,166 aged 18 or under of those in contact with mental health services were admitted to a mental health hospital.
- Referrals to children and young people’s mental health services are at the highest on record at 90,789 in March 2022.
- 1,067,849 aged 18 or under were in contact with mental health services.
- 674,485 children and young people were supported through NHS funded mental health services with at least one contact.
Additional data compiled by YoungMinds in 2020 showed that:
- Overall, young women are more affected than young men. Those who identify outside of cisgender or straight, as well as racialised groups and those who are disabled, are much more likely to be impacted, with higher numbers saying they are struggling to cope:
- 49% of Black and minoritised or racialised groups
- 66% of those reporting a disability or long-term health problem
- 62% of those who identify with the LGBTQIA+ community
Knowing these figures continues to be a driving force for the Little Beam Foundation so that we can provide support and assistance to children, young adults, parents, guardians, educators, carers, friends, allies, family members - anyone and everyone - that can play a part in supporting children and young adults with their mental health.
OUR 6 KEY FACTORS - THIS BLOG PLAY AND MUSIC
At the Little Beam Foundation, we focus on 6 key areas of support. For today’s blog, we wanted to focus on two of those six with examples of support that can be provided through these areas that can help to support everyone's mental health and wellbeing. Some of this might seem too simplistic to be true, but we want to ensure that we offer all types of resources, information and a variety of examples that you can try.
We all know that, even though we can create our own strategy tool box, some of those tools won’t work on a given day - even if they have in the past.
Having a variety of tools, resources and offerings helps to build our knowledge and understanding, creating lots of options that we can access.
Play has been shown to improve mental health by providing a creative outlet, improving self-esteem, helping to manage stress, and improving overall wellbeing. Play can also help to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Through play, individuals can learn new skills, build relationships, and increase their sense of belonging. Playing can also help to foster connection and communication, which can help to improve mental health. Additionally, play can be a way to reduce stress and increase relaxation. Playing can also help to improve problem-solving skills, increase self-awareness, and improve focus.
- Create games with your children. Use crafting to create board games, even make them mental health specific so that it opens up the communication.
- Finding games for teens and young adults can be tough at times. However, encouraging play and creativity, in various formats, can slowly start to support another outlet resource.
Music has been shown to help mental health and wellbeing. Back in January 2011, researchers found that music releases dopamine (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12135590), the feel-good chemical in the brain. It also found that dopamine was up to 9% higher when volunteers listened to music that they enjoyed.
In one 2013 study (https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0070156), participants took part in one of three conditions before being exposed to a stressor and then taking a psychosocial stress test. Some participants listened to relaxing music, others listened to the sound of rippling water, and the rest received no auditory stimulation.
The results suggested that listening to music had an impact on the human stress response, particularly the autonomic nervous system. Those who had listened to music tended to recover more quickly following a stressor.
In a nutshell, Music has been found to help reduce stress, improve mood, and provide a sense of comfort and relaxation. Music can also help to improve cognitive functioning, including memory, concentration, and creativity. It has been used as a form of therapy to help with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health issues. Additionally, it can help to increase motivation and improve sleep quality. Music can also help to build social connections, as it can be a form of self-expression and communication.
- Dance! Dance like no-one is watching! Dance in the kitchen. Dance serving dinner. Dance. Dance. Dance. As silly as this might sound, popping on some music and having a “random” dance with children and young adults in a sure instant way to take even just a few moments of fun.
- Create a musical instrument with your children. Another great crafting idea!
- Get involved with your children’s music. Look at local concerts. Attend local open mic nights (often free entry).
- Create a household playlist on Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple, or another streaming service. Give everyone access with the aim for a FAMILY playlist, one of great memories and those that simply make you feel good.
Join us again next month whereby we will be talking about our other KEY FACTORS at the Foundation and examples of how you can implement these into you own home.
As a reminder, keep checking the website for our latest events, ways to get involved AND to apply for grants.
Have a great day!