Looking after yourself

Protecting Your Family’s Mental Health

Over the past nine weeks, families across the country have found themselves working, living, learning and playing at home as the world reacted to the coronavirus crisis. Families with younger children used to days at school, teenagers preparing for exams and adults working full time were suddenly thrown together 24/7 with no chance of escape.

It may come as no surprise then that mental ill health now affects 1 in 3 people, a statistic that changed quickly from 1 in 4 people after a few weeks in lockdown.

This new statistic also represents the stats for mental health in children and young people, which a Government survey conducted in 2017 found that 12.5% of 5 to 19 year olds had at least one mental disorder when assessed, and 5% met the criteria for two or more mental disorders.

In the weeks leading up to the UK lockdown, the team at Shaw Mind, a mental health and wellbeing charity, had already started pulling together specialist trainers to help them deliver a series of training courses to help support every phase of a person’s life, from childhood and adolescence to adulthood and old age.

Delivering support to children, young people and their parents with this in-depth training, called Monkey Wisdom, is Tana Macpherson-Smith, founder of Clearminds.

Monkey Wisdom provides a means of exploring and explaining the background to mental health issues in children and adolescents so that children as young as five can grasp the concepts, take on board the tools provided to change their thinking and as a result, enhance their emotional resilience.

The programme provides visual and physical tools to help all age groups to achieve emotional balance and overcome issues such as anxiety, anger, fear, low-mood and self-harm.  Introducing the ‘inner-monkey’ has proved a really accessible and powerful tool for children, teens and adults alike and it is through the monkey that children learn the power of their own thoughts to destroy or enhance their lives and learn how to turn down the negative voice in their heads, befriend their inner-monkey and overcome personal issues.

From Fearful to Fabulous and From Fearful to Formidable are courses specifically for teenage girls and boys and provide a roadmap to positive wellbeing; tools to change the way they view the world and think; about themselves and all that has passed and what they could achieve in the future.

For parents, the insights and methods delivered through the Monkey Wisdom courses will help them to better understand themselves, their own emotions and how to enhance not only their own thinking but the thoughts and emotional wellbeing of their children too.

In addition to training, Shaw Mind are championing children’s story books with mental health and wellbeing themes from Upside Down Books, an imprint of the UKs leading mental health and wellbeing publisher and Shaw Mind donor, Trigger Publishing.

The latest titles have proved popular with readers of all ages, particularly ABC of Feelings (for 2-4 years), Superheroes Don’t Get Scared (5-7 years) and My Mindful Journal (12+ years).

The Shaw Mind team are available to offer support and guidance to individuals, schools and businesses on a range of mental health support provisions. Visit www.shawmind.org for more information about the courses or follow the charity on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.


Award-winning writer, blogger, social media consultant and charity campaigner. Social Media Manager for BritMums, the UK's largest parent blogging network Freelance clients include Firefly Communications and Save the Children UK. Works with brands on marketing projects. Examples include Visit Orlando, Give As You Live, Coca-Cola and Kodak. Cambridge Law graduate with many years experience working across three sectors in advice, media relations, events, training and project management. Available for hire at affordable rates.

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