WILTSHIRE Council is highlighting the range of mental health support available for children and young people locally and nationally.

The COVID-19 pandemic, national lockdowns and concerns about exams have all increased anxiety and had a negative impact on the mental health of many children in the UK.

Wiltshire Council is supporting Place2Be’s Children’s Mental Health Week, which takes place from 1 to 7 February 2021 and seeks to raise awareness of children’s mental health and the support services and resources available locally.

According to Place2Be, one in six school-aged children in the UK has a diagnosable mental disorder, an increase from one in nine in 2017.

Cllr Laura Mayes, cabinet member for children, education and skills, said: “Children and young people are faced with challenges growing up normally but growing up during a pandemic puts us all in an unprecedented situation.

“Effective support from an early stage not only helps children and young people cope with challenging life circumstances but can also prevent problems from escalating and becoming more serious in adolescence and adulthood.

“Locally, we worked with Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and Barnardo’s Healthy Minds Wiltshire to develop On Your Mind, a website which provides free, safe online support for young people, with links to support from other local and national organisations.

"There is also a new advice page for Wiltshire parents and carers which includes practical strategies to support children with their mental health and wellbeing and there is more support on the Oxford Health website on child mental health.”

Wiltshire Council is also working with the West of England Academic Health Science Network to develop MiHub which uses virtual reality to help young people explore their emotions.

Royal Wootton Bassett Academy was selected as the pilot school and pupils taking part were involved in the co-creation of the programme alongside the technology developers.