Public Health England launches mental health campaign developed in partnership with the Centre

8th September 2020  |  By: Michelle Cunliffe


Public Health England’s new campaign supports children, young people and their parents with their mental health. The new advice available on the Every Mind Matters website has been developed in partnership with leading children and young people’s mental health charities, including the Anna Freud Centre, Young Minds, The Mix and Place2Be.

The advice is designed to help parents and carers spot the signs that children may be struggling with their mental health and support them, and also provides advice that can help maintain good mental wellbeing. In addition to the advice for parents and carers the site also provides tools to help young people build resilience and equips them to look after their mental wellbeing.

Most families have experienced upheaval in their daily lives during the pandemic. With children and young people now back at school or college, PHE’s new campaign provides NHS-endorsed tips and advice.

Research reveals that the coronavirus outbreak has caused an increase in anxiety in young people[1], and more than a third of children report being more worried, sad and stressed than before lockdown[2]. New PHE survey data found that two thirds of parents surveyed say their children’s behaviour has changed since the start of the pandemic (69%) and, when asked their top three worries around coronavirus, over half (52%) said the mental wellbeing of their children topped the list of their biggest worries.[3]

To engage parents and carers a powerful short film has been created featuring a range of celebrity parents including Davina McCall, Marvin Humes, Sean Fletcher, Katie Piper and Edith Bowman, reading extracts from best-selling author Charlie Mackesy’s well-known book, ‘The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse’. The emotive extracts all touch upon mental health and aim to encourage parents to visit the Better Health - Every Mind Matters website.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director and Director of Health Protection at Public Health England said: “Parents’ and carers’ relationships with their children are special and we want to give them the support they need. Being there to listen and encouraging them to explain how they feel can make a real difference to how children and young people cope with life’s challenges. It can also help them develop effective skills to cope with their emotions.”

Minister for Mental Health, Nadine Dorries, said: “The effects of the pandemic on children and young people’s mental health have been challenging and it is vital we continue to do all we can to protect them and prevent long-term effects.

“Young people should feel encouraged to speak up, look out for each other, and ask for help. This campaign and these resources are a great way to access support and help parents to understand steps they can take to care even more for their children’s mental health and wellbeing.”

Professor Prathiba Chitsabesan, NHS England Associate National Clinical Director for Children and Young People’s Mental Health, said: “As young people go back to class, it’s understandable that while many will be excited to get back, some may also have concerns and anxieties about the new academic year, following the uncertainty and upheaval of Covid, which is why this important campaign is offering practical tips to help kids cope.

"Parents, carers, teachers and students should also be reassured that the NHS has been and will continue to be there for everyone with concerns about their mental health, whether through 24/7 crisis support lines, video and phone consultations, or face to face appointments.”

TV presenter Davina McCall said: “Children have missed out on so much during lockdown and like lots of other parents, I’ve wanted to support mine as much as I possibly can. As we’re starting to go back to normality and there’s still lots of uncertainty for our kids, it’s important we’re there for them through their ups and downs – communication is so important. For anyone that’s concerned or worried, or just want some tips on how to support them, please search Every Mind Matters.”

Professor Peter Fonagy, Chief Executive of the Anna Freud Centre said: “Asking for help and getting the help you need are two of the most important steps anyone can take to support their own mental health and the mental health of others. This campaign will support parents who have real concerns about the impact of the coronavirus had on their children and give them the confidence to listen and encourage them to speak out about their feelings. In many cases this alone will help, in others it is the most important route to obtaining timely support with the stress and disruption to their lives caused by the pandemic. This campaign is a major contribution to promoting and protecting our children’s wellbeing.”

Search Every Mind Matters for expert tips and advice to support children and young people with their mental wellbeing, or for more information, visit www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters

[1] Levita L, Gibson Miller J, Hartman TK, Murphy J, Shevlin M, McBride O, and others. Report 1: Initial research findings on the impact of COVID-19 on the well-being of young people aged 13 to 24 in the UK. Non-representative sample of 2,000 children and young people aged 13 to 24, collected 21 to 29 April 2020

[2] Barnardo’s. Generation lockdown: a third of children and young people experience increased mental health difficulties. 2020. [Sample of 4,283 young people aged 8-24, weighted to be representative of all -24 year olds, GB. Collected 15 May-2 June 2020.]

[3] Survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of Public Health England. Total sample size was 2,559 parents in England who have children aged 5 to 18. Fieldwork was carried out online between 4th to 11th August 2020.

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