Exmouth author Emma Richardson writes for the Journal

Exmouth Journal: Exmouth author Emma Richardson.Exmouth author Emma Richardson. (Image: Emma Richardson)

I’m teaching myself to crochet. For those of you that read my pre-Christmas article, let’s just say it’s currently going about as well as my knitting. However, the great thing about it is that I’m so consumed with trying to follow the pattern, keep all the stitches together and hold the wool and hook, that all other thoughts and worries go out of the window for an hour.

It’s a superb mindfulness activity that goes some way towards keeping my mental health in a good place.

This week (February 1 to 7) is designated as Children’s Mental Health Week.

This is more important now than ever and a good time to be having conversations with our young people about how they’re feeling.

If my own family are anything to go by, the pent up frustration and irritation at being kept inside and away from others is bubbling ever nearer the surface and whilst I can’t wave a magic wand to take that away, the very least I can do is listen to how they’re feeling.

Online learning is unfortunately adding to these feelings; schools are usually the last people to advocate spending a whole day in front of a screen and yet are having to do just that to facilitate teaching this term.

Exmouth Community College are tackling this by purposefully scheduling no-lesson slots for each year group and encouraging the students to get away from their computers to do something that makes them feel happy.

What else can we do as parents to help with this situation? Socialising is surely the hardest thing to do for any of us at the moment. In addition to getting out in the fresh air away from those screens, trying to keep some social connections is also really important for children’s mental health. In Devon we are very lucky to have a well-resourced youth service (Space); in Exmouth the service operates out of The Hive next to Manor Gardens.

Usually bustling with activity five nights a week, the actual centre is currently closed, however their services are very much continuing to run online, available to all and access is free.

Space’s tag line is Something to do, Somewhere to go, Someone to talk to and this still stands during lockdown 3. Currently there are virtual youth club sessions for over 13’s through Discord (Music activities, Mindfulness sessions and more),

Zoom meet-ups for all ages (quizzes, silly games and jokes as standard) and even Zoom craft workshops- materials provided (no crochet offered yet, but I’m keeping my eyes peeled).

Further details can be found on The Hive’s social media accounts: @exmouthspace on Instagram, The Hive YC on Facebook or by emailing thehiveyc@spacepsm.org.

If you have young people in your family, point them in the direction of The Hive for a chance to make new friendships and maybe learn some new skills along the way.

For more information and resources connected with Children’s Mental Health Week check out: https://www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk/