Pioneering the benefits of physical activity on Children’s Mental Health Week

On Place2Be’s Children’s Mental Health Week, children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust has said in a world full of pressures related to exams, family life and exposure to social media, it is important to raise awareness of the benefits physical activity can have on mental wellbeing.

Ali Oliver, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, has said too many children are missing out on the benefits of play and sport. 

“On Place2Be’s Children’s Mental Health Week we are championing the role that physical activity has to play in good mental health and emotional wellbeing. We know through recent evidence that young people who are active are more likely to feel happy.

Prevention is always better than cure and Youth Sport Trust schools which have modernised their physical education curriculum so it is intentionally focussed on wellbeing outcomes, are helping young people with resilience and how to manage stress and anxiety. 


“Through the pioneering work of the Manchester Mentally Healthy Schools Partnership which we are a part of alongside Place2Be, we are seeing schools transform their approach and this will help prevent thousands of children from developing serious mental health conditions in the future."

The programme is transforming Manchester schools’ approach to mental health, with YST putting the physical into mental health. The project was commissioned by the Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership and is being delivered in collaboration with Alliance for Learning, 42nd Street and Place2Be. YST’s role has been to work directly with young people in primary and secondary schools on the cusp of a referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to improve their physical and emotional literacy, equipping them with coping strategies to deal with stress and anxiety. The project provides training, support and resources for teachers and young people to become Mental Health Champions who lead on supporting others in their schools.

Through the programme, Mental Health Champions at YST member school Cedar Mount Academy in Manchester spoke to BBC Breakfast about how the programme is having an impact on them. 

Young people from Cedar Mount Academy speak to BBC Breakfast

In primary schools, 70% of pupils who had become a Mental Health Champion, felt able to talk to their friends about mental health with 88% now recognising poor mental health in their peers. In secondary schools, since becoming a Mental Health Champion, 65% of young people can now talk to their friends about their health.

Read the full research report on the initial findings from the Manchester Mentally Healthy Schools Pilot.

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