Whats Affecting Our Child’s Mental Health & Wellbeing?

Mental health problems affect about 1 in 10 children and young people. They include depression, anxiety and conduct disorder, and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives.

Alarmingly, however, 70% of children and young people who experience a mental health problem have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.

The emotional wellbeing of children is just as important as their physical health. Good mental health allows children and young people to develop the resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults.

Things that can help keep children and young people mentally well include:

  • being in good physical health, eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise
  • having time and the freedom to play, indoors and outdoors.
  • being part of a family that gets along well most of the time.
  • going to a school that looks after the wellbeing of all its pupils
    taking part in local activities for young people.Other factors are also important, including:

Other factors are also important:

  • feeling loved, trusted, understood, valued and safe
  • being interested in life and having opportunities to enjoy themselves
  • being hopeful and optimistic
  • being able to learn and having opportunities to succeed
  • accepting who they are and recognising what they are good at
  • having a sense of belonging in their family, school and community
  • feeling they have some control over their own life
  • having the strength to cope when something is wrong (resilience) and the ability to solve problems.

Most children grow up mentally healthy, but surveys suggest that more children and young people have problems with their mental health today than 30 years ago. That’s probably because of changes in the way we live now and how that affects the experience of growing up.

See more about Children and Young People Mental Health Wellbeing at Mental Health Foundation

Looking Forward work with schools to help children and young people to deal with issues around loss/separation, domestic violence and abuse through various creative therapies including Play, Drama, Art, Counselling and Hypotherapy.

We also work with family to improve their mental wellbeing through Drama Therapy.

Dont feel you have to suffer alone, if you need advice or some support please contact us 01902 826306.


Congratulations to HeadStart!


Looking Forward would like to congratulate HeadStart in Wolverhampton on securing multi-million pound funding from the Big Lottery Fund to extend its programme for a further 5 years.

HeadStart was set up in 2014 to deliver special resilience training to children and young people, helping them deal with change, build relationships and tackle problems which could cause depression and anxiety.

The boost will see HeadStart work in schools to help young people with emotional issues know where to get support and raise awareness of the importance of mental health.

Looking Forward is excited to know that emotional and mental health well-being services are continuing to be developed in the West Midlands.

Looking Forward is Big Lottery funded programme within Murray Hall Community Trust to address the emotional and mental health needs of children and young people living in Sandwell.

LFlogohi_big_e_min_blkmurray hall celebrating 20 years

Mental Health Awareness Week


This week is Mental Health Awareness Week 2016 and the theme this year is Relationships.

Mental Health Foundation are calling on people to commit to maintaining good relationships with friends, family and colleagues.  They believe that we need to understand how important positive relationships are to our health and wellbeing. We cannot flourish as individuals and communities without them. In fact, they are as important as better-established lifestyle factors, such as eating well, exercising more and stopping smoking.

The charity are asking everyone to go the extra mile in prioritising their relationships. They are calling on people to make a relationship resolution to assess how much time we actively commit to building and maintaining good relationships, and to ask whether we can invest more in being present with and listening to friends, family and colleagues.

Looking Forward also believe in the importance of maintaining positive relationship with children and young people and their families and friends.  We continue to work with children who have suffered a breakdown in relationships either with family or friends whether it be due to a trauma, abuse or the loss of a loved one.  We also work with families to provide therapeutic services in order to build these relationships.

Relationships include: Fights, jealousy, arguments, faith, tears, disagreements – but a real relationship fights through all that with love. 




Anti Bullying Week 2015

Anti Bullying 2015

This week has been Anti-bullying week 2015 in England co-ordinated by Anti-bullying Alliance.

The theme is ‘Make a Noise about bullying’ with the #antibullyingweek. Follow the link for the 2015 video below.

Make a Noise About Bullying

The key aims of the week are…

  • To empower children and young people to make a noise about bullying – whether it is happening to them or to someone else, face to face or online;
  • To help parents and carers have conversations with their children about bullying – both as a way of preventing bullying, and to help children who are worried about bullying;
  • To encourage ‘talking schools’ where all children and young people are given a safe space to discuss bullying and other issues that affect their lives, and are supported to report all forms of bullying;
  • To equip teachers to respond effectively when children tell them they’re being bullied; and
  • To raise awareness of the impact of bullying on children’s lives if they don’t tell anyone it’s happening – or if they are not given appropriate support – with a focus on the impact on mental health.

Looking Forward supports anti-bullying week as children’s emotional and mental health and wellbeing are affected through bullying whether in be in schools, socially or at home.

If you are being bullied and feel you need someone to talk to and live in the Sandwell Borough then please visit Kooth.com a free and confidential online counselling service for children and young people aged between 11 years old – 25 years old.


SHAPE Conference 2015


Sandwell Council of Voluntary Organisations is holding their children and young people conference SHAPE 2015 on Monday 30th November 2015 and Looking Forward will be presenting a market stall to promote our Therapeutic Services and Kooth.com.

There will be games to play and some freebies for the children and young people who are attending. We are very much looking forward to meeting all the young people who are attending.


All the best Lance

All the best Lance, we hope you get the support you need

Lance Franklin. Photograph: David Moir/AAP

Today many sports fans will have read articles relating to the Australian Rules Footballer Lance Franklin and his “mental health condition”.

It has been announced that Franklin will be taking some time away from the sport due to an “ongoing mental health condition”.

Franklin’s team the Sydney Swans are refraining from putting a timescale on his return and are rightly putting his health as the priority.

We would like to wish Lance and his family all the best, our thoughts are with you and we hope you get the support you need. We are sure that everyone in sport is behind you.

Hellblade Video Game

Whilst doing a quick google search to find out what’s going on in the world of emotional well-being & mental health I came across what on the face of it appeared to be a bit of an odd headline;

How ‘Hellblade’ explores real life mental health issueshellblade 1

The first thought that ran through my head was …

‘This is a gaming website (Wired.co.uk), what do they know about mental health?’

quickly followed by …

‘Hellblade, sounds like that’s going to be a really good portrayal of mental health’

But I like video games & it’s vaguely related to my job so I thought I’d take a look.

So … it turns out Hellblade follows a young woman who has to deal with the aftermath of the Viking Invasion of Britain in the 9th Century … I know feels a bit of a long shot at the moment but stick with it … the young women turns out to be a Celtic warrior called Senua & game doesn’t just follow her in the aftermath of an invasion but also as she triesto understand her mental health & the hallucinations she experiences.

Now back to the first thing that came into my head ‘What do they know about mental health?’ … well actually the game developers ‘Ninja Theory’ partnered themselves with Paul Fletcher (a Psychiatrist & Professor of Health Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge) & the Wellcome Trust (a charitable foundation based around mental health research) to ensure that the game was both realistic & sensitive to the issues they address.

All of the news about this game points to it as an in depth exploration of psychosis & mental illness which would be a really interesting concept as when most people think of mental illness in video games they actually think of a load of blood crazed zombie types trying to eat your face, or a Hannibal Lecture-esque mad man who needs to be kept in a straight jacket at all times.

Ninja Theory seem to have gone to great lengths to ensure that this game is accurate to real life & portrays Senua in a relatable way, even down to the fight scenes which are specifically designed to work around the fact that Senua has mental health issues, & to portray game 1the fact that those issues aren’t based in the present but have their origins in Senua’s earlier life.

I think the quote that best sums up what the developers are trying to achieve in this game is from Ian Dodgeon, Creative Partnerships Manager at the Wellcome Trust; “Rather than being a didactic game teaching us about psychosis, Hellblade allows us to explore it through the creation of a compelling & complex character, & the world that she inhabits”.

This new game isn’t supposed to be like a text book or a lecture & I severely doubt it will be added to any school curriculum but it is designed to give us a rare opportunity to explore psychosis, even if it’s in a setting we’re not going to have much experience of.

I will certainly be keeping an eye on this game in the next few years & hope that it does live up to the hype & avoids the cliches of mental health in video game culture.

Family Fun Days

Therapeutic Services want to say a big thank you to everyone who gave up their time and effort to make our first family fun day of the summer a success.

We had loads of really fun activities for the whole family to do including arts and crafts, face painting and martial arts.

We would like to specifically say thank you to the Sandwell Fire Service, Tipton ASDA and Ren Shin Kan Aikido Club for working so hard to create an inviting and fun filled atmosphere on the day.

 fire station

We’re looking forward to another brilliant day with lots of great activities and groups at our next Family Fun Day on the 14th of August.


We hope that everyone who came to our fun day had a really good time and would like to invite people to our second Family Fun Day on the 14th of August at The Bridge.


A5 Leaflet


Looking out for your mates isn’t as hard as you think.


Every year one in four of us experience a mental health problem. This can be an awkward subject for anyone to talk about but you don’t need to be an expert, just looking out for your mates can make a big difference.

Take a few minutes to listen to Matt & Tim talk about how the little things can be really important when it comes to helping a friend get through difficult times.


You can also have a read of blogs such as Rikki’s. Rikki talks about how his friends have helped him though his difficulties with anxiety & depression. He also gives five really helpful tips for friends who are trying to support someone with mental health issues.

  1. Remain open minded & listen.
  2. Tell your mate that you’re there for them & that they’re not alone in this.
  3. Help your friend find positive escapism.
  4. Stay in contact.
  5. Tell your mate that they’re important to you.

If one of your friends needs to talk to you about mental health issues please take a look at Rikki’s blog:


& all the other resources & blogs on the Time to Change website.


If you are concerned one of your mates is holding something in, Time to Change has developed some top tip cards to help you start the conversation & make a difference. As well as the cards they have also created a leaflet to help you be there for your mates.

Videos provided by: time for change

Whatsupp? – Changing Lives Online

logo 3 wordpressThe Looking Forward Programme is happy to announce our first Showcase Event!

Whatsupp? – Changing Lives Online

is a unique opportunity to learn about the innovative ways we are supporting Children & Young People in Sandwell, & the ways we hope to support them in the near future.

The Event will …

  • Feature an award winning young peoples online counselling service
  • Give you the opportunity to experience the latest interactive technology to connect with young people
  • Feature experiential play & creative therapy workshops
  • Provide free lunch!

We will be holding the showcase at Sandwell Park Farm on the 30th of September.

To book your ticket visit our Eventbrite Page:


But book quickly as there are very few spaces!