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. 




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.


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

What is Play/Creative Therapy?

play therapy 1Play/creative therapy is a form of counselling whereby the therapist utilises a variety of play and creative arts techniques to help the young person explore and work through things that may be bothering them. These could be things that are happening in the present or those that have happened in the past.  The therapist supports the young person in trying to make sense of their life experiences and helps them to find strategies for coping with the difficulties that they face.

Play therapy is particularly useful and effective for young people who cannot or do not want to talk about their problems as they can use the mediums to express themselves without the need to talk.

Play/creative therapy may be non-directive in nature where the young person decides what to do in the session, directive, where the therapist leads the way or a combination of the two.

The aim of play/creative therapy is to enable the young person to express and acknowledge their thoughts and feelings in a constructive way within a non-judgmental, supportive environment. Few limitations or boundaries are put into place in order for the young person to feel able to play, create and express themselves freely.  It is therefore important that a confidential, safe space is provided for the young person to work with the therapist.

What is the play/creative therapy toolkit?puppet

The therapist is trained to use a variety of different mediums to help the young person to express and explore their feelings and emotions. These mediums are called the toolkit and include:

Sand tray and figures


Art materials including clay


Story telling

Drama, dressing up and role play

Creative visualisation

Movement and dance

Come Home

This is a song written by Antix, a London based hip-hop artist & Mind supporter, when him & his brother were battling through the ‘darkness together’.

I came across it because of a blog post he wrote on the Mind UK website. He describes some of the difficulties he has experienced having a younger brother who suffers with mental health issues & how music has helped him through the difficult times.

Happily he writes that his brother is in a better place at the moment.

I strongly suggest that anyone, whether they have similar issues or not, listens to ‘Come Home’ & has a quick read of Antix’s post, I’ve put the link below.



A Day in the Life

Creative Blogs#adayinthelifemh

Whilst looking around the internet for any exciting news or interesting blogs in the world about mental health I stumbled across an initiative called “A Day in the Life”.

A Day in the Life is a mass blogging website where people with mental health difficulties write about a day in their life on four different days across the project. The first two days have already gone; being the 7th of November 2014 & the 10th of February 2015, & the next day is the 10th of May 2015.

The project will last for a year & is designed to offer people a snapshot of the bloggers lives; their experiences, wellbeing & thoughts. Each blog is up to 700 words long & is an honest account of what happen to the blogger on that day & how those events impacted on their wellbeing. Bloggers can also select from a number of areas such as stigma, work & home life rating them as positive, negative or neutral; this allows readers to filter the hundreds of blog posts into more manageable subjects before they get stuck in reading them.

My experiences of mental health issues have been relatively limited & took place when I was in my early teens so I found it really interesting to read about the lives of other people who are currently living with difficulties which without these posts I would have no understanding ofpos & negative faces

Perhaps the most moving part of it all is that each writer is so personal (even though they’re all anonymous), they describe everyday events as if they are exactly that, everyday; they don’t write as if the reader is stupid or as if they’re a doctor or therapist, perhaps that is just what an anonymous blog on the internet can offer people, a space to write completely openly & honestly & not be judged.

I would encourage anyone who is reading this to take a look at the A Day in the Life website where you can read the blog entries or even sign up to write your own posts. You can click either the picture below or the link & it will take you to the website.

A Day in the Life bannerhttps://dayinthelifemh.org.uk/

My name is Mike, I'm a 20 year old administrator for Looking Forward.
My name is Mike, I’m a 20 year old administrator for Looking Forward. I am also involved in delivering therapeutic Aikido sessions to children & young people.

The Stand Up Kid

Watch The Stand Up Kid video designed & created by Time to Change to help stamp out the stigma faced by young people affected by mental health problems.

The Stand Up Kid was created alongside research which showed that nearly one in ten young people in the West Midlands thought that classmates with a mental health problem should not be at their school. The same number of young people also felt that they would stop being friends with someone if they had a mental health problem.

Time to Change also found that 9 out of 10 young people affected by mental health issues had also been affected by mental health stigma & experienced negative treatment as a result of this stigma.

If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues or the stigma surrounding them please find support through Murray Hall, Time to Change or your GP.

Video created by: time for change