We launch Beyond Words writing project to support young people’s mental health

17 Sep 2020
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Today, in partnership with the Bupa Foundation, Cheltenham Festivals and Mind, we’re excited to launch a new creative writing project for young people to help them express their feelings about this extraordinary year and support their mental wellbeing.

In the lead up to World Mental Health Day on 10 October, Beyond Words for World Mental Health Day invites young people of all ages to get their pens (or keyboards!) at the ready and share their own unique thoughts. There are no set rules, so anyone wanting to get involved can also create art, music, spoken word, photography or a combination of their preferred media.

Beyond Words is a year-round creative writing project by Cheltenham Festivals as part of its education strategy. It’s designed to increased the wellbeing, confidence and literacy of 14-16 year olds who are too physically or mentally unwell to attend school.

As well as awards for individuals and schools for every submission, the Bupa Foundation will generously donate £3 to its partner charities, including us and Mind, to help fund projects that support young people’s mental wellbeing.

Recent research from Mind shows that two-thirds of young people said that their mental health worsened during lockdown, and our research showed that 2 in 5 children and young people said writing made them feel better during lockdown and 1 in 4 said writing helped when they felt sad that they couldn’t see friends and family.

Beyond Words for World Mental Health Day is supported by leading children’s authors including Matt Goodfellow and Jennifer Bell, as well as poets Sophia Thakur and Caleb Parkin.

To help children and young people with their entries, they and their teachers will be able to access inspirational videos and work from authors as well as mental wellbeing resources. A selection of entries may also be published in an anthology.

During lockdown, many children and young people turned to creative writing as a way to make sense of the extraordinary times we are living in. Giving young people the freedom to explore their thoughts and feelings through creative writing can unlock their imaginations, aspirations and academic potential, while providing them with an essential coping mechanism for difficult situations and emotions. Creative writing will continue to play a vital role in young people’s lives, so we must do everything we can to nurture this – starting with encouraging all young people to take part in Beyond Words for Mental Health Day.

Jonathan Douglas, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust

World Mental Health Day is on Saturday 10 October. Beyond Words for World Mental Health Day runs until the end of October. Find out more including inspiration from authors about writing for wellbeing at www.bupafoundation.org/beyond-words.