Children’s Mental Health Week 2024

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Today marks the start of Children’s Mental Health Week (5-11 February), which this year focuses on the theme that all children and young people, whoever they are, and wherever they are in the world, should be able to say – and believe – “My Voice Matters”.

At Spread a Smile, we focus directly on each young person we meet, making sure we take the time to find out what they need from us and how we can help improve their wellbeing. Through our face-to-face interactions, online sessions and family events, we provide very special opportunities for the children we support to be seen, heard and find a space for positive experiences and mental health.

Bailey is 17 years old and was diagnosed with leukaemia in May 2022. She told us “Hospital was really horrible, and I felt really down when I was going through my treatment. Spread a Smile’s visits made it so much more fun and they really gave me something to look forward to, taking my mind off what was happening. I have finished my chemotherapy now, but I still need to shield so I’ve started virtual guitar lessons with Spread a Smile, who have helped me get back into my music. It’s given me something to focus on and has given me back some of my confidence again.”

Each year we reach out to the families we support and the health professionals we work with to find out the impact of our services.*

  • 99% of parents and carers contacted said that our in-person and virtual visits improve their child’s mood and help to reduce anxiety.
  • 100% said that Spread a Smile helps them to feel heard.

“I can’t explain the difference the sessions made to Alyssa and her wellbeing, bringing her so much joy during such a difficult time. Alyssa was able to socialise, laugh, be herself and forget she was in hospital.”

Alyssa’s Mum, Kiona.

  • 100% of health professionals we spoke to said that our visits improved the emotional wellbeing and mental health of their patients.

Laura Walter, Spread a Smile Director of Services said, “We are proud that our work delivers meaningful and positive change to a child’s wellbeing, mental health and recovery process. We holistically support the whole family as we understand that parents, siblings and the wider family unit can be significantly affected by a child’s illness.”

Alongside our in-person and virtual visits, Spread a Smile’s online digital platform, Smile TV was developed during the Covid pandemic to enable us to continue to be there for our families during lockdown when our entertainers were not able to carry out face-to-face visits in hospital. It is packed full of sessions with our entertainers, arts and crafts activities, music, magic, helpful tutorials and much more. Being online, it can be accessed via our website at any time of the day, when distraction is most needed, from hospital or home.

Our most recent uploads include soothing pop songs, Disney songs and nursery rhymes aimed at finding space for positive mental health and moments of relaxation and calm, away from the pressures of illness and treatment.

*Stats taken from the Spread a Smile 2023 Impact Report which you can read in full here.