There is a lot more to lockdown than Zoom chats and baking banana bread. For many of us this is a very difficult time emotionally; separated from loved ones, juggling new and unexpected life stresses, homeschooling, working from home, feelings of isolation and a struggle to find focus.
At the Southbank Centre, we believe in the power of the arts and creativity to change people’s lives for the better. And so, to mark Mental Health Awareness Week – which runs 18-24 May – we wanted to share ideas and activities from our friends and partners to help children and families maintain good mental health during this challenging time.
recommended for ages 4-11
Born out of Tangled Feet’s Mindfulness Project, The Mindfulness Project at Home launched on 20 April. It is a series of 10 online classes for primary school aged children to engage with as part of their home learning; alongside mini activities you can find on Tangled Feet’s Instagram and Facebook.
Designed to uncover and express children's thoughts and feelings, the programme provides space and time to understand that all our minds get a bit stuck sometimes and that everyone – children and adults – is finding the current lockdown strange. Tangled Feet hope children will learn techniques to manage stress, and also develop their confidence and communication skills.
recommended for ages 6+
Earlier this year award-winning violinist, Nicola Benedetti, brought her series of orchestra-based weekend workshops addressing the needs of young musicians and teachers to the Southbank Centre. Unable to deliver in-person teaching during the lockdown, the Benedetti Foundation have taken tutorials online. Here’s a great session on breathing exercises with tutor Elena Urioste, which can help with practising and performing but also coping with difficult situations.
recommended for ages 6+
It’s often said that laughter is the best medicine. But did you know it’s a saying based on science?, laughter has been proven to benefit mental health, reduce stress and strengthen social connections. It’s no wonder laughter and humour are often championed as effective ways to combat anxiety and depression.
So, with that in mind, get twice the benefits by combining having a good giggle with some creativity, courtesy of comedian Olaf Falafel’s Art Club. Olaf runs a new live session every Monday at 11am, and you can find all the previous episodes on his YouTube channel, alongside information about what to expect next week.
recommended for ages 7-11
Talking Mental Health is an animation designed to help begin conversations about mental health, in the classroom and at home. Supported by Wellcome, the film was made by Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, with the help of children and young people.
Starting conversations about feelings and mental health can be difficult, and so this short film can offer a useful starting point, for both you and your child.
recommended for ages 5+
Since the dawn of occupational therapy, craft courses have been prescribed as a means to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, stress, depression, loneliness and even dementia. The Craft Council have some really great, easy to follow tutorials online, including this finger knitting guide. Just get hold of some wool and use your hands and get crafty together at home.
recommended for ages 6+
As well as being good for your physical health, regular exercise can have a positive impact on mental health too. It can relieve stress, improve memory, help you sleep better, and really boost your overall mood. One of our Resident Companies, ZooNation Youth Company always deliver fabulous performances and great workshops for people to get involved when here at the Southbank Centre.
In lockdown they’ve moved their classes online, so why not take the opportunity to try something different as a family, and follow one of ZooNation’s dance classes.
If you need expert help or advice about mental health – be it your own, or someone else’s – both Young Minds and Mind offer support and information, as well as signposting to where you can find urgent help.
The Southbank Centre believes in the power of the arts and creativity to change people’s lives for the better.
As a charity, we rely on ticket sales for a huge chunk of our income. But now they’ve stopped. And it's a huge worry to us, and the people we work with. We all need the escape of art and culture; it can inspire and unite us. So please – if you can afford to – consider a donation to the Southbank Centre today, to help us be there for you in the future.
The show must go on(line)
Sadly, for everyone’s safety, our venues are currently closed. But you can still get your Southbank Centre fix online. We will continue to share inspiring and thought-provoking arts stories through our website and social channels.