Family & Education

New schools' festival will support children’s mental health

Now and Beyond on Inside Out Day takes place on February 3


The charity Mind has already warned that the coronavirus pandemic has created a “mental health emergency” in the UK.

With fresh lockdowns under way, frazzled parents are again having to juggle the demands of working from home with keeping an eye on their children’s schooling and perhaps helping to care for their own vulnerable parents too.

The closure of shops and leisure outlets will prolong financial anxieties for many families.

There could hardly be a more apt time for the first designated mental health festival for primary and secondary schools.

Now and Beyond on Inside Out Day, which will run free online sessions for children, parents and teachers, takes place during Children’s Mental Health Week on February 3.

More than 700 schools, including many Jewish schools, have already signed up.

Beyond is the charity of one of the Jewish community’s most prominent mental health campaigners, Jonny Benjamin.

Inside Out Day, which encourages children to wear an item of clothing inside out, was launched last year by Johanna Novick, Julie Borlant and Janie Jackson-Spillman in memory of their late sister Jenny Jackson.

The programme includes live after-school webinars from among others, BBC news presenter Kate Silverton, who is a trainee child psychotherapist, and experts from the Anna Freud Centre.

Various organisations are offering teaching guides and other resources, including Heads Up for Kids, which has run wellbeing sessions for children in Jewish schools.

“I know a lot of parents are struggling,” Mr Benjamin said. “It’s tough – the last lockdown was in spring but it’s winter now, it’s been so bleak and the days are short, which adds extra stress.”

In a report last summer, the children’s charity Barnado’s said Covid-19 was having a disproportionate impact on the mental health of young people.

“Too many children and young people are having to meet crisis point before they access support,” Barnado’s warned.

The festival’s organisers have also launched a crowdfunding campaign to develop longer-term mental health support in schools

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