Focusing on Children’s Mental Health

Focusing on Children’s Mental Health

Published on Monday, 05 February 2018

Posted in News

Children’s Mental Health Week runs from 5 – 11 February 2018, with the theme this year ‘being ourselves’, celebrating our uniqueness and thereby promoting a positive self-image.

Teresa Sloan, Director Fundraising & Communications, AWARE said, “Research shows that mental health is a concern for young people today, with over a third of 11-16 year olds having had concerns or worries about their mental health and 61% of those not seeking help, as the majority thought they could handle things on their own (Young Person’s Behaviour & Attitude Survey 2016, Department of Health).

“AWARE is the depression charity for Northern Ireland and we offer a range of support services, including wellbeing and mindfulness programmes for young people. AWARE wants to help young people build resilience to be able to cope with the natural ups and downs of life, but also to know they can speak up and ask for help when it’s needed.”

Dr Maggie McGurgan, Consultant in Child and Adolescent Mental Health & Intellectual Disabilities, speaking on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Northern Ireland said, “We all need to take care of our mental health, just as we do our physical health. Children and young people face a huge number of pressures today and many are struggling. It’s normal to have ups and downs or have ‘good’ or ‘bad’ moods, but if the lows persist and are more than young people can cope with, or affect their daily life or activities they previously enjoyed, it’s time to seek help. There is support available from their GP or school counsellor, and programmes like AWARE’s Mood Matters can help young people better understand their feelings and alert them to the signs and symptoms of difficulties and how best to seek help if it is needed.”

Mood Matters Young People is delivered in schools to students aged 14-18 years old. The programme provides young people with the knowledge and skills to maintain good mental health and build resilience in order to better deal with the challenges we all can face in our lives.

Young people who have received the training have said that the programme is “very helpful and makes you aware of what can trigger stress and affect your mental health, and is a great way of finding out how to deal with it.” Other students stated that Mood Matters is “very informative and the trainer made it fun”, and “that everyone can be helped if they talk to someone”.

AWARE also offer a mindfulness programme for primary school children aged 7-11, called Paws b. Paws b aims to help children feel happier and calmer, help them cope better with stress and anxiety, and help them concentrate and get on better with others. Results have confirmed that Paws b positively improved children’s moods and concentration levels.

AWARE is holding a Mindfulness in Schools Conference on 26 February which will discuss the Paws b programme, with previous recipients including Principals and students, reflecting on what they have learned from the sessions and the impact it has had on their schools.

For more on Children's Mental Health Week go to