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Children’s Mental Health Week: Creativity Conference

Why is creativity so essential for children’s mental health? How can we support and encourage imagination and self-expression in young people? Join world leading trauma therapist Bessel van der Kolk and poet Lemn Sissay MBE at PESI UK’s joint online conference as part of Place2Be’s Children’s Mental Health Week 2021.

If we’ve learnt anything from the Covid-19 school closures, it is that Maths and Grammar aren’t the most essential things children and young people are missing out on.

Music, poetry, photography, storytelling, dance, drama, visual art… creative activities are often sidelined in the educational timetable. Yet we know that imagination and self-expression are fundamental to mental health and wellbeing, helping children to process trauma, build life-long coping skills, and face their futures with hope.

Play – as those supporting children and young people through this pandemic well understand – has never been a more serious business.

Starting today, Children’s Mental Health Week 2021 is all about exploring and celebrating this crucial link between young minds, bodies and imaginations.

The theme for 2021 is ‘Express Yourself’ – and this Friday, PESI UK is teaming up with organisers Place2Be for a special online event in which world-renowned trauma specialist Bessel van der Kolk and poet Lemn Sissay OBE will come together to discuss the power of creativity to heal.

The half-day conference, titled Creativity as a Healing Tool: Connecting mind, body and imagination, will invite participants to explore the medium of creative play in their therapeutic work with children. How can this help young people with wide-ranging and complex issues – from bullying and friendship problems to bereavement, family breakdown and trauma?

The event will combine the very latest clinical knowledge with deep personal insight, as Bessel van der Kolk discusses the impact of trauma on neuroplasticity, functioning and development of self, and Lemn Sissay considers the lifeline he found in poetry following his own traumatic childhood.

A concluding panel session will bring in Myira Khan, counsellor and founder of the Muslim Counselling & Psychotherapist Network, doctor and children’s broadcaster Dr Radha Modgil, and James Emmett, Midlands and North Regional Clinical Lead at Place2Be, to discuss lockdown learnings and essential creative tools.

Whether you’re a child therapist, educator, mental health professional, or looking to better support the young people in your own life, we hope this event will help resource and inspire you – and ensure that we are all helping children to meet the challenges of this pandemic armed with the super powers of creative self-expression and imaginative play. 

Click here for more information about Children's Mental Health Week 2021, including resources connected with the Express Yourself theme. Click here to book your place at PESI UK and Place2Be's online conference, Creativity As a Healing Tool: Connecting mind, body & imagination, featuring Bessel van der Kolk and Lemn Sissay, on Friday 5 February, 2-4.45pm.


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