Schools closed, exams cancelled and a bleak job market. It’s a hard time to be young.
In a 2020 survey, Young Minds found that 80% of respondents believed that the pandemic had made their mental health worse. Parents, teachers and activists across the UK are calling for more support for children and young people’s wellbeing.
Enter Now & Beyond.
Mental health charity Beyond and awareness campaign Inside Out Day are joining forces to deliver Now and Beyond Festival: the UK’s first mental health and wellbeing festival for schools.
On 3rd February 2021, teachers across the UK will spend the day (virtually) discussing mental health with their students and helping children to start talking about their state of mind.
We spoke to co-founder of Beyond, Jonny Benjamin, to learn more about the day.
How has young people’s mental health been affected by the pandemic?
We’ve already started seeing the impact it’s having on young people’s mental health. Just this month it was announced that referrals to CAMHS (the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) are now at its highest on record. This is deeply concerning.
I don’t think we’re going to realise the full impact of the pandemic on everyone’s mental health until life goes back to some sense of normality. I’m personally very worried about the trauma that this past year will have caused to so many people, particularly children.
What can parents and teachers do to support children and young people at the moment?
Firstly, parents and teachers need to be kind to themselves and ensure they are looking after their own mental health if possible! I know this is easier said than done, of course.
I think it’s important that we encourage young people to talk about their feelings, particularly if they’re worried or anxious — which recent studies show is rocketing. We shouldn’t dismiss any of these fears but really try to listen to and reassure them.
We need to keep reminding young people (and ourselves) that we are going to get through this period together and that hopefully very soon life is going to improve for all of us as the restrictions are eventually lifted.
Can you explain the thinking behind Now and Beyond and how people can get involved?
We wanted to create something meaningful in response to the pandemic. There has been a lot of focus on things like exams and testing when it comes to schools, but no-one seems to be focussing on the wellbeing of students and teachers which we know has greatly suffered in the past year.
This is why we set up the festival. We wanted to offer schools and colleges up and down the country the chance to experience some much needed mental health support. We now have just over 900 schools and colleges signed up and over 350 individuals running sessions to improve the wellbeing of students.
We also have dedicated sessions for teachers and parents’ mental health. But we want this to be the start of schools and colleges accessing support for their wellbeing rather than just simply a one-day event. We’re currently crowdfunding to be able to help schools and colleges with this.
People can get involved in a range of ways detailed on our website. We’re so looking forward to the day itself and the impact it will make!
Find out more about Now and Beyond on Inside Out Day on its website.