A new charity set up by a mental health campaigner plans to offer "substantial” grants to schools later this year for projects intended to improve young people’s mental wellbeing.
Fundraising for Beyond Shame Beyond Stigma will form part of a "Mindfulness Moment" at 11am on 10 May, involving schools across the world at the same time in a bid to create a global "wave’" from Australia to Hawaii.
Invitations to participate will be sent to schools after Easter through the ClassDojo app, which is organising the "moment".
Children who participate will be offered sponsorship forms to raise money for Beyond Shame Beyond Stigma.
This charity has been established by mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin, best known for his social media campaign #findMike, in which he sought the member of the public who talked him out of a suicide attempt at Waterloo Bridge.
Through ClassDojo, schools that participate will be sent a 30-minute structured lesson and short film led by a bright green cartoon character called Mojo.
Pupils will take part in a range of mindful activities, and learn relaxation techniques and breathing exercises, but may opt out if they wish.
'Gentle introduction' to mindfulness
Mr Benjamin said the moment would show schools it was easy for them to implement mindfulness.
He told Tes: “Mindfulness is a way of being and can be accessed through meditation, breathing techniques and visualisation.
“It means people are in the present and so are less likely to be ruminating on the past or their anxieties about the future.
“This is very gentle and light introduction to it for children, and is meant to be preventative, as mental health resources have been cut and schools have reduced counselling.”
Mr Benjamin said Beyond Shame Beyond Stigma was also fundraising among companies and expected to be able to make substantial grants by December for local mental health projects for young people.
He added: “There is great stuff out there and we are not saying what people must do – they can apply to us with their ideas.”
This, he hoped, would go towards addressing the "postcode lottery" in child mental health funding identified this week by children’s commissioner for England Anne Longfield, who found real-terms spending on children's mental health services in England had been cut by 60 per cent of local authorities.
Mr Benjamin was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder – a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar – when he was 20 and began to make films on YouTube about the condition. He now writes and speaks about mental health issues.
In February, the Department for Education launched a mental health trial involving pupils in some 370 schools to gather evidence on which techniques were most effective in promoting wellbeing, including mindfulness exercises, relaxation techniques and breathing exercises.