A Mental Health and wellbeing programme for schools

Introduction

Donna Jennings, the founder of For the Love Of a Child (FLOC) is a trained dramatherapist and cross professional clinical supervisor.  She has worked in the UK and overseas delivering training to professionals in order to support the mental health and well being of children who have suffered with trauma due to poverty, personal circumstances and war.  Donna created the Listening Stone Programme in conjunction with research by professor Divya Jindal -snape from Dundee university who is Chair of Education, Inclusion and Life Transitions in the School of Education and Social Work. The Listening stone programme is targeted at primary school aged children 5 – 11 years, including those with special needs, but there is also a specially written version for pre- school/ nursery children. Our programmes have had government recognition and have shown in evaluation that over 80% of children who attended our programmes had improvement in their psychosocial health and well-being.

FLOC would like to see our mental health and wellbeing programmes rolled out to schools in the UK

We want to use our knowledge and experience to expand our programmes to help children and families living in areas of specific need in the UK, and to support those children with a mental health and well being programme called The Listening Stone.  

Mental health programmes for children are especially needed.  The British Medical Journal recently quoted (10/03/2021) that mental health conditions increased from 10.8% in 2017 to 16% in July 2020 across all age, sex, and ethnic groups according to England’s Mental Health of Children and Young People Survey (MHCYP).  A self-selected sample of 2673 parents recruited through social media reported deteriorating mental health and increased behavioural problems among children aged 4 to 11 years between March and May 2020 (during lockdown).

We would like to support the early intervention into the high levels of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) by offering timely support that can enable a normal and healthy childhood development and help to avoid children getting stuck developmentally due to their trauma. We believe that the power of creativity, stories and play can help them build trust, explore, express and unlock pain to help them build resilience and hope for the future.

The Listening Stone Programme (LSP) is an eight-session programme.  The eight sessions focuses on themes that cover loss, friendship, identity, fear, anxiety, depression, resilience, hope, destiny, and purpose.  The programme has been developed to offer a safe, therapeutic, playful, and creative space for children. Children can explore, in a non- threatening way, the issues they’ve faced using drama, puppets, movement and music specifically aimed at helping them process difficulties they may have experienced.

The session activities are informed and underpinned theoretically by principles of dramatherapy, by Sue Jennings’ work on Embodiment-Projection-Role (EPR), and also by some of the latest research around trauma-informed practice Erikson’s early psychosocial development theory...  The (LSP) programme has been designed for use in educational settings, and organisations working with vulnerable children in the UK or abroad.

For more information or questions about the Listening Stone programme please email Donna Jennings at info@fortheloveofachild.org.uk

Feedback and more information

Some feedback from the children who have been in the listening stone programme.

I have more friends now.
I listen more.
I don’t fall out as much with my friends.
I am more confident in crowds.
I liked the singing and the dancing.
I liked talking.
I sometimes get worried but have been able to share this in the group.
I am better at meeting new people.
I am less shy.

Feedback from a professional 

“The activities are very clearly explained and the focus is clear from the start gives the reader clear direction and what they hope to achieve. The activity pack gives lots of scope for kids to reflect, develop their thinking and responses. I like the fact the pictures are included in the story. The story is lovely.”

More Information

The Listening Stone Programme supports schools that are promoting health and well-being, respecting the rights of others, and promoting emotional literacy, in line with local and national policy. The LSP ties in with the outcomes and indicators outlined in professional guidance, eg, the Curriculum for Excellence, the NHS, SHANARRI, and NICE. Further information on how the LSP links with the strategy and policy in your field can be found at the following websites:

http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/myexperiencesandoutcomes/healthandwellbeing/mentalemotionalsocialphysical/index.asp
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/People/Young-People/gettingitright/publications/well-being-policy
http://www.education.gov.uk/childrenandyoungpeople/healthandwellbeing
http://www.nice.org.uk/PH012

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