'I have a volcano inside of me': film helps children talk about mental health

The animated film, co-created by teachers and children, also offers advice on how to support a classmate with problems

Adi Bloom

Schools need to focus on supporting the friendships of autistic girls, research shows

“What can you do when small feelings are bothering you?”

This is the question asked in a new animated film, co-created by teachers and pupils, which aims to help children cope with mental health problems.

The six-minute film was produced by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, and features an introduction from the Duchess of Cambridge.

It forms part of a new campaign to encourage children to talk about mental health. The campaign also includes free resources for teachers to use with their class.

Coping mechanisms

The film features cartoon representations of a group of Year 6 pupils, discussing how they cope with minor worries.

“I like KFC or going in the bath,” one pupil says.

“I would probably write it down,” another offers. “You feel it’s out of you and on the paper.”

A third says: “When I feel stressed, I usually just turn the shower on and sing in the shower.”

 

 

'How you can be a good listener'

Those are the ways they deal with small feelings. Big feelings, by contrast, can be harder to deal with. Jay, a cartoon pupil with blue curly hair, is overwhelmed by her big feelings.

“It feels like I have a volcano inside of me, getting hotter and hotter,” Jay says.

She knows that she ought to talk to someone, but struggles to find an appropriate person. Her mother is ill, and has her own problems, Jay says. Her teacher is too busy.

 “If someone wants to tell you something, how can you be a good listener?” the film asks.

The pupils have a number of suggestions: “If you’re listening to someone, you could lean forward or sit side-by-side”; “You can help the person find an adult who can help.”

In the end, Jay confides in a friend, who talks to an adult. Together, they help Jay to cope.

“Talking to people didn’t magic all the big things away,” Jay says. “But it did start to help me to change things, and it was good not to feel I was on my own.”

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Adi Bloom

Adi Bloom is Tes comment editor

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