It’s Children’s Mental Health Week – Express Yourself!

February 1st marks the start of Children’s Mental Health Week 2021.

Organised by the charity Place2Be, the awareness week aims to shine a spotlight on the importance of children and young people’s psychological wellbeing.

This year’s theme is Express Yourself and it’s all about finding ways to share feelings, thoughts, or ideas, through creativity. This could be through art, music, writing and poetry, dance and drama, photography and film, and doing activities that make you feel good.

To kick off the week, we’d like to share this blog by Liz Hawksworth, a counsellor with our fabulous Young People’s Service, all about the life-enhancing power of nature and creativity. Each day this week, we’ll publish a different blog by staff from our Young People’s Service, aimed at helping young people through the current lockdown, so keep checking in. Thank you for reading!

Let nature and creativity work some magic

“Engagement with the natural world and the creative arts stimulates the brain and brings a sense of lift and wonder.”

So says Dr Bill Merrington – not a surprising fact to any of us, I’m sure. He notes that during times of war, disaster and trauma, people’s interest in nature heightened. I wonder how many of us find our awareness of nature’s beauty magnified through lockdown? The moon rising, the sounds of the birds, the splendour of a sunrise, the wonder of the changing seasons.

Stella Adler observed:

“Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.”

Creativity – our own and connecting with the creativity of others – can be nourishment for our souls. I wonder how often we are tapping into such life-enhancing channels through these unprecedented days?

I love ‘Hold’, created during a previous lockdown, by sculptor, Sir Antony Gormley, a miniature version of an existing piece of his work. In a BBC interview, he said: “Most of us live our lives in ridiculous obligation to a machine that is always telling us to do more, have more, go to more places, make more money. This is a wonderful time in which those imperatives are loosened. And we have to ask ourselves, ‘What do we care about?’, ‘What do we value?’, ‘What do we love?’

Creativity, of a myriad of medium, can speak into the core of our beings, giving expression to our thoughts and feelings, perhaps sitting unacknowledged deep within, the flow that can come as we draw, paint, use textiles, garden, make music, appreciate creativity exprssed by others – a multitude of ways to engage with the creative parts of who we are.

And so, with research increasingly demonstrating that in engaging with nature we bring a balancing effect to our mental wellbeing and creativity, offering potential (as Picasso said) to ‘wash from the soul the dust of everyday life’, let’s remember to take some time to pause, to breathe, to notice, to create, to appreciate, to wonder and to give opportunity for our souls to be replenished.

Allotment flowers by Gemma, young person attending one of our drop-ins

 * Find out more about our Young People’s counselling service.