Children's Mental Health Week 2021

Staying wild and well

©David Tipling/2020VISION

Child in woods

©Helena Dolby for Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust

Just like we have physical health, we have mental health too. Mental health is how we feel, what we are thinking and how we behave. Just as our heart beats quickly when we have been running in PE, the same is true if we feel nervous or scared. Changes in our bodies are connected to our thoughts and feelings, and we should look after our mental health just as much as we look after our physical health. You might make sure that you eat your vegetables and drink plenty of water to look after your body. So how can you look after your mind?

Boys in woods

©Helena Dolby for Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust

Being outside and playing in nature makes us feel happier and is good for our body and mind. Simple things like looking for different colours in the trees or laying on the grass to watch the clouds can give us time to process our emotions and reflect on how we are feeling. Nature can help us keep well even when we must stay close to home. Evidence of the living world is everywhere, and we are all part of it. If we look after it, it will look after us too. Part of the secret is joining in, so why not take your natural computer – your brain – out into nature and see what happens. You can find some ideas below!

Five ways to wellbeing

It is suggested that there are five steps we can take to help improve our wellbeing. Trying these things, perhaps as a family, could help you to feel more positive. Click the arrows on the right to read our suggestions for finding wellbeing in nature. 

Connect with others

Connecting with other people can help to build our confidence. When we spend time with others we feel a sense of belonging. It also helps to connect with others when we feel sad or angry; to talk things through and support each other. 

Connect

Photos © Misty Hutton, Susan Freeman, Katrina Martin/2020VISION

Although many of us can't see each other in person at the moment, there are other ways you could connect up. If you have a phone or camera, you could film your daily walk and show someone all the wildlife you spot. Or find a bird spotter sheet on our activities page and challenge your friend to find as many as you can. Call each other at the end of the week to compare your results! 

Get active

Staying active can make us feel good. In whichever way you are able, spending time outdoors, and being in nature, is proven to make us feel better. 

Wildlife yoga

You could try these wildlife-inspired poses, great for bending and stretching if you are able. Has it been raining where you are? Why not do some puddle jumping! Daily exercise is permitted at the moment, so even just going on a walk with your family is a great way to take some time out. 

Learn a new skill

When we learn a new skill, we feel proud of ourselves. It can help to build our confidence and give us a sense of purpose. However small, completing a task and learning something new is a simple way to feel good.

Why not try making your own bird feeder? There are some ideas in the video and a really simple apple feeder idea on our activity page too. Perhaps you'd like to learn how to draw or photograph nature? Or you could even just learn a little bit about your favourite species to tell your friends after once you can go back into school! 

Give to others

Being kind to others can make us feel good too. Saying thank you, offering our help, or spending time with someone who needs support can give us a sense of purpose in return. 

How to make a mini wildlife pond

Although we can't do much in our communities at the moment, there are other ways we can give to others, including wildlife! If you are lucky enough to have a garden, why not build a mini pond or an insect hotel, or make a hidey hole to help nature. You could fill in a colouring sheet and pop it in the post as a thank you card to someone you appreciate. 

Be in the moment

Paying more attention to the present moment can help improve the way you feel. This includes being more aware of your thoughts and feelings, and the world around you. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.

Tree hug

We think that being outside can help us to be mindful. From listening out for bird song, watching the clouds, or just sitting still for a while in the outdoors. Why not try making a nature mandala for someone else to discover, or try and map the sounds you can hear from your window. 

For more resources and support around Children's Mental Health Week 2021, visit the Place2Be website. You can also find out more about the five ways to wellbeing on the NHS mental wellbeing pages.

Education and Learning

The Wildlife Trusts works to support children and young people across the UK

Read about our work

Nature and wellbeing

The Wildlife Trusts believes that a thriving, wildlife-rich environment can benefit both physical and mental health

Find out more

Doing your bit to help the environment

Easy ways to look after our wonderful planet

I'm in!

Matthew Roberts