The start of Early Years Wellbeing Week came from an idea I had about how I was going to support, promote and link Early Years to mental health for World Mental Health Day on 8/10. The focus for 2018 is: youth in a changing world and so very relevant to Early Years, yet many are still so afraid to talk about mental health, so the stigma continues.

Let’s get this right -Mental health and mental illness are not the same!

We all have mental health in the same way we all have physical health, we just need to get better at understanding this. If we start a conversation and join voices, we can raise awareness and understanding of mental health and take precious steps to challenge the misconceptions that surround mental ill health.

In early years we work long hours, often without the luxury of breaks, we are taught to put others needs before our own and are physically and mentally depleted by the end of the day. Stress is a word thrown around a lot but if we don’t safeguard that stress, it can take over and cause physical and mental health issues, such as anxiety, panic attacks, fatigue, insomnia, headaches and migraines to name a few. Promoting wellbeing and prioritising self-care are essential and must be taken seriously.

We must integrate mental and physical health and take seriously the responsibility we have to safeguard all aspects of our health. This means we can support one another to look out for signs and symptoms of mental illness and mental health issues, just like we do when we experience physical ill health and issues.

How we support, promote and nurture children’s emotional development as wellbeing is key to every other aspect of their development and will have a life long lasting impact on how they grow to into well rounded resilient young people. Having a key person who is emotionally responsive and available as role model is crucial, it enables children feel safe and secure, to take appropriate risks, try new things, be willing to have a go and persevere, with adults knowing when to support and when to stand back.

We are calling on all of you that work within the early years sector to consider the vital importance of making these links to mental health in the early years for the benefit of both adults and children. We hope that by shining a spotlight on this important subject it encourages awareness, empathy and highlights how our mental health and wellbeing is linked to everything we do.

The aim of the week and to join in, is simply to plan and schedule Wellbeing as a focus throughout the week on the 8-14 October. From leading a staff meeting with a focus on wellbeing, to planning activities that nurture wellbeing for all children, staff and parents. Visit our Getting Ready for Wellbeing Week page here For some tips and ideas from myself, Sonia & Wendy.

If you are taking part in #EYWellbeingWeek and would like to feature as a case study please get in touch, or join in online and share photos and activities using the hashtag.

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