If you had half a million pounds to experiment with creating projects to improve the mental health and personal resilience of children and young people aged 10-14 what would you do? Where would you begin? Who would you need to help you to make a systemic positive impact on young people’s lives? What daily or weekly activities would you propose children and young people undertake to avoid acquiring serious mental conditions and keep their minds healthy and strong?
We all know that we must brush our teeth daily to insure our long-term dental health and prevent tooth decay and both parents and schools (and dentists) pass this on to children, it is common knowledge. However, when it comes to our mental health, how to stay healthy and well in an increasingly complex world is more ambiguous. We are left to fend for ourselves. In general, our education systems do not teach children what they must do daily, or weekly to look after their long-term mental health and become more resilient to any adverse events they may face. Children may learn techniques or experience tools and ideas that may support them with their own mental well being and resilience at home, but this is in an ad-hoc manner and varies widely amongst families and communities. The Big Lottery Fund has developed an investment fund called HeadStart to give 12 regions of the UK precisely this opportunity: to support multi-stakeholder partnerships in developing new approaches to improve children’s and young people’s mental health and personal resilience.