A new initiative to support mental wellbeing of children in schools
Funding from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by the National Lottery Community Fund has helped AT The Bus to launch AT The Bus in a BOX, a new mobile service which will enable us to offer a flexible school-based programme of art as therapy to schools in London and Oxfordshire. Compact, wheeled boxes containing story books, art supplies and other resources will equip highly trained facilitators to run workshops in any appropriate and safe space within a school.
Each session is designed according to The Beattie Method, a holistic approach to building resilience, nurturing self-esteem, wellbeing, learning capacity and critical thinking in a supportive creative environment. By applying The Beattie Method, AT The Bus facilitators help students feel secure and valued; find enjoyment and interest in the world around them; build positive and trusting relationships; and take pride in their own unique creations.
Teachers in both mainstream and special needs schools have welcomed the transformative art as therapy programme. AT The Bus in a BOX broadens the reach of this tried and tested practice.
The need for youth mental health support — already acute before the Covid-19 pandemic — intensified during lockdown, as many young people were deprived of routines, education and relationships with peers and teachers. When leading charity YoungMinds surveyed 2036 young people with a history of mental health needs in June-July 2020, results were conclusive:
· 80% agreed that the pandemic had made their mental health worse
· 87% agreed they had felt lonely or isolated during the lockdown
· 31% said they had not been able to access the help they needed
AT The Bus in a BOX can be delivered flexibly and with short notice to schools in need in London and Oxfordshire.
Our Year Two children had the opportunity to get really involved in a creative and satisfying experience. They were highly engaged throughout and had the support of sympathetic and imaginative adults, allowing them to express their imagination and individuality, and to have a break from the stress and anxiety of the past few months.
Sue Vermes, Headteacher
Juli Beattie has focused her work on providing essential safe and nurturing expressive and creative art-based work for children and young people. Schools are now recognising the critical need for children to engage in experiences that promote positive wellbeing and good mental health. AT The Bus provides a mobile service that will enhance this important work within mainstream settings.
John Diamond, CEO, The Mulberry Bush
During this time of extraordinary crisis, we are being reminded of the important role played by the arts in enabling us to achieve balance, peace and happiness in our lives. Having been a senior leader for a decade, I have seen first-hand the great work of Juli Beattie and her team and how it has supported the most vulnerable people in our society. This latest project will provide youngsters with a much-needed outlet for their emotions and creativity. This is vital work.
Emmanuel Botwe, Headteacher
Imaginative schemes for helping us all engage with issues surrounding mental health and wellbeing are to be applauded. I would like to express my support and enthusiasm for the principles behind this project and am especially excited about the way this practice will use the therapeutic power of art to make a difference.
Chris Price, Headteacher
I am so delighted to be supporting this initiative as it is clear from so many sources that provision on the school site is essential for the most vulnerable and at risk young people. From my research with refugee children, over 70% said that they preferred to receive mental health support at school rather than anywhere else, and in schools across the country we are finding out how important working in schools is for so many different groups of children- be they with learning difficulties, emotional and behavioural challenges, physical health problems etc... We have found that when we help these children with their mental health problems, they are then better able to engage with their peers at school and access the academic curriculum.
Dr Mina Fazel DM MRCPsych, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford and Patron of AT The Bus