Children are being taught resilience in primary schools this Children’s Mental Health Week thanks to our staff at the Trust.

It comes as demand for children’s mental health services has increased dramatically over the last few years, so at the Trust we launched Start and Ready Talks programmes to promote prevention and early intervention amongst young children, teaching them valuable life skills. During Children’s Mental Health Week they will feature on BBC Newsround.

The ten week Start and Ready talk programmes were launched in the autumn as a pilot following our Change Talks programme, which began four years ago in high schools with the mission to revolutionise the way we think, talk and act about mental health for young people.

Both programmes were co-produced with young people with lived experience including from schools as well as young people from our Youth Voices group, a youth forum.

The main focus of Start and Ready talks is to reduce stigma, increase awareness and promote positive coping strategies through workshops delivered in schools

Our dedicated engagement work has reached over 60,000 11-21 year olds within education settings, and Start and Ready talks led by Psychologist Naomi Hardman have already helped over 400 primary school children and feedback from teachers and children has been overwhelmingly positive.

Naomi said:

“Children’s mental health is such a topical focus at the moment, we know children suffered during the pandemic and we want to embed mental health awareness into the school curriculum and we’ve launched a ‘train the trainer’ model to facilitate this.

Our work is paving the way to make positive cultural changes and tackling stigma. We recognise the need for this to start at a young age following an increase in demand for younger children’s mental health awareness.

This academic year we have expanded our programme to include primary school children with our Start and Ready talks.

Some children are angry after the pandemic, their screen time has increased and some social skills are lacking. We are already seeing the benefits from the sessions as the children are all willing to participate and are learning valuable skills they can use time and time again through childhood and adult life.”

Start Talks is designed to target children early in their educational life and includes topics such as emotions, communication, coping skills, resilience and awareness. The topics are age appropriate, interactive and delivered within 20 minutes to be engaging. 

Ready Talks is designed for children in school years 5 and 6 to prepare them for high school through 30 minute sessions. The topics covered at this stage are an expansion from Start Talks but will include additional material on risk taking behaviours, online safety and gaming. All content can be adapted to suit individual schools and fit within their academic timetable offering a safe space for young people to talk about their mental health.

Naomi added:

“The sessions which were co-produced by young people for their peers - are structured and designed to be relatable and often help start difficult conversations and conversations some parents might find tricky to initiate at home.

We want to educate children about mental health, resilience, communication and coping mechanisms as we know making children aware of their mental wellbeing from a young age can have a positive impact on their life. I want to be the influential person I wish I had when I was younger and I can’t wait to share this with more children over the coming years.”  

This Children’s Mental Health Week, we will continue to expand their invaluable, unique and trailblazing work and Start and Ready talks will adopt a ‘train the trainer’ model next academic year. If you would like to find out more or discuss potential school visits please contact