Current estimates state there are over 34,000 vulnerable young people in Hampshire living with mental health difficulties, with a concerning trend of those with existing problems worsening. Quoted mental health assessment waiting lists for young people are 19-25 weeks but wait times can be much longer. Demand for Hampshire Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) has outstripped the capacity of services available, with little alternatives.
Children and young people with good mental health and wellbeing develop more resilience, are better able to learn, have better outcomes and ability to deal with life’s challenges.
Hampshire County Council - COVID-19: addressing inequalities in mental health and wellbeing across Hampshire
In response to the Covid pandemic, we designed a programme to reach vulnerable young people in Hampshire who were in isolation, providing opportunities to engage with creative activity to help improve their mental health and wellbeing. Creative Boxes filled with art supplies and an activity booklet were sent directly to hundreds of young people through our established links with mental health and wellbeing partners. Activities were designed, in collaboration with local art practitioners, to encourage self-expression, help develop coping skills and build confidence.
With thanks to support from individuals in the local community and businesses, we have provided over 300 Creative Boxes since 2020. These boxes have reached those aged 10-16 years, targeting young carers, young offenders, those with special educational needs, those that have been fostered/are in foster care, those who misuse substances, those suffering bereavement, and those who are at risk to themselves or others. In the words of a social worker: "If it gives them 45 minutes to just relax and be kids, that's enough to make a difference".
So far, we have been able to provide:
- boxes to young people under the care of Hampshire CAMHS, supporting their journey toward better mental health.
- creative Christmas screen printing sessions to New Forest young carers.
- boxes to pupils who have to be home educated, in partnership with Pupil Referral Units.
- young people experiencing trauma the opportunity to work with an artist at Alton’s Curtis Museum; which allowed them time to be creative in a safe and supportive environment, and each given a Creative Box to take home.
- support for young refugees (and their families) coming to Hampshire, working with the University of Sanctuary, as well as boxes sent to schools and our local partners.
- boxes and creative wellbeing CPD sessions to family support teams, looking at how Creative Boxes can be used to positively engage vulnerable young people; with additional boxes being used to support families.
- boxes to the Youth Offending Team and Youth Crime Prevention Team, to make a creative bank of resources that support young people to gain a qualification or support positive connection with staff using creativity to explore emotions and help mental health.
Creative Boxes continue to be used as a vital tool to help break down initial barriers to reaching vulnerable young people and encourage longer-term engagement with positive activity, improving their mental health and wellbeing.
She really enjoyed last night - she was buzzing! She made a new friend, has made plans to meet up at the weekend for a coffee which will be good for both of them.
Parent - New Forest Young Carers, Creative Christmas screen printing session
Each box contained:
Sketch pad, Colouring pens, Modelling clay, Paint, Paintbrushes, Drawing pencils, Glue, Origami paper, An eraser, A sharpener, A activity booklet (available in 4 languages).
The box itself can also be decorated and become a self-soothe box where the young people can add items that ground them, making them feel more relaxed and reduce symptoms of panic, anxiety or low mood.
We have provided free downloads of the activity booklet below which can be used as resources for children and young people or those supporting them.