The Voice of Mental Health

Posted 13 February 2024

Footprints Foster Care - The Voice of Mental Health

Did you know that last week was Children’s Mental Health Week and Chinese New Year, and that today is Pancake Day? All three of these are pretty important, but not all have been given the same level of hype in our media, supermarkets and schools. Okay, now we know these events aren’t completely comparable, but they do help to make a point – that mental health in the UK in 2024 is still not on the radar nearly enough.

With figures from YoungMinds showing one in six children aged 5-16yrs are likely to have a mental health disorder, it is clear the need is there more than ever. Children’s mental health awareness has come a massive way in the past decade, but the work isn’t done yet. So, at Footprints we’re encouraging everyone to keep it going.

Organised by mental health charity Place2Be, the theme for this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is, ‘My Voice Matters’. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that every child has the right to express their views, thoughts and feelings – and to have those views considered and taken seriously.

These are huge things in the world of their mental health. When children (or any of us really), feel truly heard, they feel empowered. This in turn improves their mental wellbeing and self-esteem. Big stuff.

If you’ve ever had a boss, friend or spouse constantly belittle your opinions then you’ll know how the flip side of this feels – not good. Foster children may well have experienced this. Abusive and neglectful backgrounds can lead to voices going unheard and even the fact a child is in care may be against their own wishes.

So often foster children have seen, heard and experienced things no one ever should. At the very least, each of them has had to deal with not having, or leaving, a loving secure family unit. All these factors mean they can be especially vulnerable to mental health difficulties. Which is why it is so important that we in the care system make sure they get all the support they need. Helping them to understand their voice matters will really, well, help.

So how can we help children in our care to feel heard, feel empowered and move forward to live their best lives? Well, if one person is to be heard, another person has to listen. We know it’s not always easy when you’re busy or tired but try to always listen on purpose.

When you are actively listening, your child will notice and it will help them to feel valued and heard.

For younger children, let them choose. Babies and toddlers may not be capable of telling you exactly how they feel but allowing them to choose between grapes or a banana, the blue stripy t-shirt or the green dinosaur one will help them to feel their voice matters. Even if that voice isn’t verbal.

If you want some great activities to try this half-term, then Place2Be have put together some family resources to help children share what matters to them. Get together, share and let all ages know they matter.

The National Literacy Trust have also created some fun ideas for reading and mental wellbeing, including using Charlie Mackesy’s brilliant book, ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’.

Whether you had a tasty Chinese meal at the weekend, or are getting busy with some pancake batter today, we hope you’ll join us in always celebrating wins for children’s wellbeing. Mental health voices matter, after all. If you want to get advice on anything mentioned above, please contact us. We’d love to listen on purpose, maybe over that banana. Or grape.

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Footprints Foster Care Ltd
Registered Company No 07879639

Longham Business Park
168 Ringwood Road
Ferndown
Dorset BH22 9BU

T: 01202 573408
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