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Children’s Mental Health Week: Meaningful relationships vital in helping young people thrive

Today marks the start of Children’s Mental Health Week, and this year’s theme is ‘Let’s Connect’. Activities will focus on the healthy, meaningful and rewarding connections in children’s lives which enable them to thrive.

At the Anna Freud Centre, we understand that this is often made possible by the trusted relationships in each child’s life. This can build the communities of support around children and young people, which are crucial for their mental health and wellbeing. Such support can also go some way towards helping to close the gap which so often exists between children’s mental health needs and the support they receive.

The Mentally Healthy Schools team at the Anna Freud Centre has launched new toolkits to encourage schools and colleges to explore the theme of connection with their pupils and to help celebrate the week. Available now, the toolkits provide school staff with free, quality assured resources to use during and following on from Children’s Mental Health Week. They include lesson and assembly plans, guidance booklets, posters and activities for young people.

Jaime Smith, Director of the Schools Division at the Anna Freud Centre, said: “The theme of this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week enables us to reflect on the importance of human connections for children and young people – from spending time with friends, to being able to rely on trusted adults to aid their mental and emotional development.

“We are pleased to share these free resources, which will enable school staff to explore this year’s theme with their pupils. Research demonstrates how healthy relationships with family, friends and others are vital for children’s wellbeing, offering a strong protective factor against poor mental health and helping to close the gap between need and the support available.

“Connections within a school setting are also very important – pupils should feel that they belong to, and are a valued part of, a school community. Their relationships with the adults in their school should be positive, consistent, and based on trust and mutual respect. Teachers and other school staff tend to know their pupils well, they may be the first to notice when a young person is struggling and in need of support.”

Throughout the week, the Anna Freud Centre will also be highlighting On My Mind, which includes an extensive range of self-care resources developed for and by young people. Many focus on the importance of building strong relationships with others to promote wellbeing.

Keep an eye on the Anna Freud news pages and social media feeds to find out more, including the latest research on the link between social connection and good mental health. Find out more about Mentally Healthy Schools and our wider Closing the Gap mission.