Ealing children's mental health startup to provide 500 schools with free mental wellness support

By Dimitris Kouimtsidis

26th Aug 2021 | Local News

A CHILDREN'S mental wellness health startup originally created in Ealing has found that 86% of teachers and parents polled felt that the government was not doing enough to support them in addressing mental health with their children.

The survey – which was anonymous - uncovered that 78% of teachers and parents agreed that children's mental health had been neglected by the government's response to lockdown and school closures.

One respondent said: "Children's mental health has been neglected for decades and pretending that lockdown is anything other than an extension of this is naive.

"It's necessary because of political choices but does not constitute the beginning of the neglect of children's mental health in the UK."

A Young Minds study found that 83% of young people had said the pandemic made their mental health worse.

In response to these findings, Book of Beasties has committed to providing up to 500 schools with free mental health support, to help children through the current crisis.

Originally developed and created at the University of West London's Westmont Enterprise Hub in Ealing, the startup is aiming to reach over 140,000 children by donating games and training worth over £30,000 to some of London's most underfunded areas.

This new incentive, which has been dubbed the '500 Smiles Crusade' is part of the Playful Minds campaign, which is calling on the government to increase funding for playful mental health provision for schools and parents and will launch in time for children going back to school next week.

Book of Beasties has said it is focused on improving the wellbeing of children through the use of playful and creative learning to raise emotional literacy, teach empathy and encourage open conversation about mental health.

The survey also found that more than 95% of respondents agreed that children's mental health would greatly benefit from the increased use of playful learning methods.

"Being able to learn in the way their brains are designed to absorb information (curiosity, experimentation, trial and error, flow, etc.) means that the learning will always be successful.

"Moving away from the standard teaching practices (teacher led, repetition, pass or fail, etc.) will empower all children to feel included and worthy of learning.

"Reframing learning as a life-long, enjoyable activity rather than a chore can only be a good thing."

Following the successful launch of a new platform to provide teachers and parents with easier access to digital mindfulness and mental wellness learning materials, Book of Beasties partnered with Great Ormond Street Children's Charity to help support the hospital's play team.

Phil Tottman, CEO and co-founder of Book of Beasties said: "Whilst our crusade is a drop in the ocean, we hope it will highlight the dire need for better mental health support in schools and put pressure on those who can make a difference to do so.

"We are a small company, but our primary focus is to improve the wellbeing of children nationwide, especially following such an adverse year.

"If that means giving away our resources for free so people can benefit from them then so be it.

"We couldn't be more honoured to be helping in such a way."


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