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Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

Each May the UK marks Mental Health Awareness Week, with this year’s theme focusing on loneliness, how it affects our mental health, and how we can all play a part in reducing loneliness in our communities.

Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of children and families, as well as our staff, is a huge priority for us, and one of the biggest drivers of our work is bringing disabled children together to reduce isolation and loneliness.

There’s no better feeling then seeing the joy on children’s faces as they play together and make friends at Challengers, but also to see this how positively impacts their parents. One parent said: “My son is non-verbal and has autism. He loves Challengers and is always well taken care of. The staff know and embrace all his quirks, and manage any behaviours with compassion and sensitivity. I don’t know how we would manage as a family without these breaks.”​

While children and young people are having fun at Challengers, parents are able to take a much-needed break from demanding care responsibilities – something which is essential to their mental health and emotional wellbeing. In our recent parent survey, over 80% of parents agreed that Challengers supports their mental health and reduces their isolation, with one saying: “We do not have a local family support network, so Challengers is extremely important to our mental wellbeing as a family.”

To support positive mental wellbeing amongst staff, we share regular Health and Wellbeing updates to remind them of the support available.

Last year we developed a brand new wellbeing initiative for staff and appointed four Wellbeing Champions. They are all Mental Health First Aid trained and play a key role in reducing the stigma associated with talking about mental health.

Our Wellbeing Champions raise awareness of different wellbeing activities across Challengers, host events like ‘Time to Talk’ day (encouraging staff to share their thoughts and experiences), and are there to act as a listening ear to anyone who might be struggling. The wellbeing of staff is a huge priority for us, and this initiative supports our commitment to providing a supportive and caring environment, where staff feel valued and respected.

One of our Wellbeing Champions, Helena, speaks about why it’s so important to take care of your mental health: “Mental health is just as important as physical health, and the two are closely linked, which is why it’s so important to keep on top of how you’re feeling and reach out for help when you need it. As Wellbeing Champions, we’re here to listen without judgement and to signpost colleagues to the appropriate support. Sometimes we just need someone to talk to, and it can really help to combat the feeling of loneliness that creeps in when we’re feeling low.”