Illustrations by Charlie Mackesy are to appear in a Public Health England video, as part of a campaign encouraging better mental health in young people, children and their parents.
The video will also feature well-known lines from Mackesy's book The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse (Ebury Press), touching upon loneliness and mental health, read by celebrities including Davina McCall, Marvin Humes, Katie Piper, Sean Fletcher and Edith Bowman. Mackesy's illustrations will be animated and feature in the background.
The video is part of Better Health—Every Mind Matters, an NHS initiative supporting mental health, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. A website including tips on how to manage children's mental health, self-care and well-being strategies while working from home, has been created in partnership with leading mental health charities, including YoungMinds, Heads Together and Mind.
McCall said: “Children have missed out on so much during lockdown and like lots of other parents, I’ve wanted to support mine as much as I possibly can. As we’re starting to go back to normality and there’s still lots of uncertainty for our kids, it’s important we’re there for them through their ups and downs—communication is so important. For anyone that’s concerned or worried, or just want some tips on how to support them, please search Every Mind Matters.”
Emma Thomas, chief executive of YoungMinds said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact of the lives of children and young people across the country and many have struggled with social isolation, anxiety and fears about what the future holds. “We know how important it is for young people to get early support for their mental health when problems first start to emerge.
"This is a welcome and much-needed campaign, and we hope that it will provide young people with the resources to support their mental health and to seek help if they need it. We also hope that it will ensure parents and carers have the tools to support their children’s wellbeing and help them adjust in the coming months.”
New research conducted by YouGov of behalf on PHE found that two thirds of parents say their children’s behaviour has changed since the start of the pandemic (69%) and when asked their top three worries around coronavirus, over half (52%) said the mental wellbeing of their children topped the list of their biggest worries. The survey polled 2, 559 parents in England with children aged 5 to 18, between the 14th and 11th August.
Professor Prathiba Chitsabesan, NHS England Associate National Clinical Director for Children and Young People’s Mental Health, said: “As young people go back to class, it’s understandable that while many will be excited to get back, some may also have concerns and anxieties about the new academic year, following the uncertainty and upheaval of Covid, which is why this important campaign is offering practical tips to help kids cope.
“Parents, carers, teachers and students should also be reassured that the NHS has been and will continue to be there for everyone with concerns about their mental health, whether through 24/7 crisis support lines, video and phone consultations, or face to face appointments.”