From the 1st – 7th February 2021, it is Children’s Mental Health Week in the United Kingdom.
The theme of this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is Express Yourself, which encourages finding ways to share feelings, thoughts, or ideas, through creativity. This could be through art, music, writing, gaming – the creative process is in their hands.
We’re delighted to be teaming up with Get Well Gamers in order to raise awareness on the resources that are available for children in relation to their mental health, as well as the important work that Get Well Gamers are invested in, in order to improve wellbeing in children’s healthcare settings. Get Well Gamers is a UK charity that takes donated video games and consoles to hospitals, hospices and other healthcare settings. They recognise that video games are an effective and proven pain management tool, providing much-needed entertainment for young people during long hospital stays or in circumstances in which recreational activities can be beneficial, and are currently linked up with over 100 hospitals and organisations across the UK.
“At Get Well Gamers, we know that being in hospital for children can already be a really tough experience. Throughout these especially difficult, unprecedented times, we’ve been working hard on getting donations out to make sure we can do our bit in assisting the fantastic and vital work that the Health Play Specialists and other staff members do, supporting the mental wellbeing of the children in their care.” Eleanor, GWG
Joe has been a long-term patient at The Royal Alexander Children’s Hospital, and his Mum kindly shared their experience and the effect that games have had on Joe:
‘My 12 year old son has been an inpatient at The Royal Alexander Children’s Hospital for 5 months. Due to Covid, visitors are not allowed & Joe is not able to leave his room apart from short outings outside to the hospital sensory garden. It has also not been possible to socialise with anyone else. Therefore, keeping Joe occupied & entertained has been a big challenge. It is with enormous thanks to the Play Team that Joe has been able to play an Xbox & Nintendo Wii, watch DVDs & have access to many different games & movies. Joe has a severe learning disability so access to this technology in order for him to play games has been fundamental in making his long hospital stay a positive experience for Joe & has also relieved a lot of stress for him & his parents.’ – Joe’s Mum
Ben is 14, and attends the Hospital Youth Club at Derbyshire Children’s Hospital.
“I love playing on the Wii with my friends at the Hospital Youth Club. It’s a chance to have fun and a laugh with people who are going through similar issues to me.”
~ Ben, Aged 14
“We are so fortunate here at Derbyshire Children’s Hospital to receive donations from Get Well Gamers. We support a wide variety of inpatients and outpatients. We are able to use the donated technology to support patients individually and in groups.
These donations mean so much to patients as they provide that bit of escapism from whatever they are going through. Whether it is a console for an isolated patient or a team game during our Youth Club session on the Wii, this technology always makes the time go faster and puts smiles on faces.”
~ Louise Melbourne, Senior Youth Worker at Derbyshire Children’s Hospital
Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, Brighton
‘I cannot emphasise enough the value of gaming for children in hospitals. Very few things can completely distract and involve a child or young person like video games. We are fortunate to have a range of gaming consoles, all of which have been donated either from the public or from charities such as Get Well Gamers. As we do not have a budget for these resources we are enormously grateful for these donations. Get Well Gamers has been fantastic as they manage to find specific games that have been requested by patients. For example a young oncology patient was very keen to play super smash bros during his chemotherapy treatment which Get Well Gamers was able to provide. This distracted him from the nausea and anxiety during treatment and helps him to have positive memories of his time in hospital.’ – Louisa Cusworth, Play Team, Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, Brighton.
7 Cups of Tea is a free emotional support service with a special service for 13-17 year olds
For those in the UK, find what resources are available to support children’s mental health from the NHS at this link for children and this link for parents and carers.
The following helplines are available to children as well as adults, and have professionals to support you if you need it:
Samaritans – 116123
Rethink – 0300 5000 927
Mind – 0300 123 3393
Youngminds – 0808 802 5544
Child Line – 0800 1111
There is a list of more specific situational helplines available here.
Teachers & Parents:
Twinkl is an amazing online resource for those teaching children at any age. From lesson plans to mental health activities, it covers all ages and brings together online resources for many young people going through homeschooling.
Kids Helpline – Website – Phone 1800 55 1800
Free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25
Kids Help Phone – Website – Phone 1-800-668-6868
Kidsline – Website – Phone 0800 54 37 54