A new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) report, co-sponsored by the Bournemouth University and the University of Winchester, and launched today (Monday 28 October 2019) highlights the role of movement in supporting children’s mental health.
The report looks at the societal issue of poor physical and mental health in children, and makes recommendations for improvements. It cites an ‘all pervasive’ digital culture for instilling a compulsion in children to stay indoors and stay still, alongside draconian reductions in opportunities for outdoor play. Children are ‘pushed indoors’ by screens and ‘pushed away’ from outdoor play but there are schemes – such as the ones cited in the report – that offer a way forward.
Bournemouth University, alongside the University of Winchester, provided an example of good practice in children’s health through a research project currently being conducted by the universities.
The project – called Stormbreak – looks at mentally healthy movement, and encourages schools, and children, to undertake a daily programme of movement to help aid physical and mental health.
Professor Mike Silk, a Deputy Dean for Research and Professional Practice at Bournemouth University, and Dr Vicky Randall, Senior Fellow in the University of Winchester’s Institute for Education, said: “Through this report, we celebrate the many fantastic ways that movement in all its many forms is being realised. The relationship between movement and positive mental health is absolutely crucial, but often ignored.
“As the many examples of excellent practice show, movement can be a simple, inclusive yet powerful medium for young people to learn how to thrive in this modern world. We hope that our report encourages more people to celebrate just how wonderful movement can be in forming positive relationships, growing confidence, strengthening resilience and nurturing optimism in young people.”
The APPG on A Fit and Healthy Childhood welcomed the ‘Mental Health through Movement’ report.
APPG Chair, Steve McCabe MP said: “Nobody nowadays will deny that a crisis in children’s mental health exists. We’re saying that getting children moving is an obvious part of the solution.
“Health education has been statutory since September 2019 and pupils should expect at least thirty active minutes per day. Professionals and parents need guidance, but unless some of the excellent examples that we list here are shared, most children won’t derive the benefit. This is a responsibility of Government just as much as providing much-needed additional funding streams for children’s mental health services.”
APPG Lead Author Helen Clark added: “The examples that we are proud to showcase in this report are proof that simply throwing money at the problem won’t do. Parents need help in learning how to dissuade their children from excessive screen use and to promote positive movement and activity.”
Stormbreak is a cross sector partnership of experts in education, health and academia that aims to improve children’s mental health through movement by equipping young people with sustainable, transferable skills and coping strategies to thrive during the complex demands of growth into adult life.
An initial pilot project has taken place across several schools in Dorset, with further plans to roll the scheme out into Hampshire and beyond as a way of improving mental health in children and arming schools with an ability to be able to help their pupils through movement.
For more information about Stormbreak, visit www.stormbreak.org.uk.
To access the APPG ‘Mental Health through Movement’ report, please visit https://royalpa.co.uk/the-aqppg-on-a-fit-and-healthy-childhood/#reportssection.