Tens of thousands of children have seen improvements to their wellbeing as a result of projects funded by BBC Children in Need’s £10million funding programme, A Million & Me, according to a report published today by Centre for Mental Health.
The power of the ordinary, by Juliet Snell, is the result of a three-year evaluation of A Million & Me,BBC Children in Need’s three-year impact programme which funded organisations across the UK to deliver innovative support to address emotional wellbeing amongst children aged 8-13 who are beginning to struggle, before problems become established and require clinical intervention.
The power of the ordinary finds that A Million & Me created resources and supported activities that have helped children and trusted adults to have more and better conversations about mental health. It is vital for children to know how to talk about their wellbeing and for parents, carers and other trusted adults to support children with their mental health. It finds that the everyday interactions between children and the adults they trust can be central to giving children the best chance of good mental health.
The report finds that A Million & Me brought a fresh approach to grant making. The various programme elements were proactively identified to fit into an ‘ecosystem’ where the individual projects worked together to enhance and amplify each other’s work. In this way, it created supportive ‘scaffolding’ on which to build children’s wellbeing. The programme also made special efforts to reach children facing multiple disadvantages, for example due to poverty, isolation, disability and gender.
The report says that this programme has led to a clearer understanding of how children aged 8-13 can be supported to enjoy better mental wellbeing through this tricky transition phase of their lives, and provides learning for the sector.
The power of the ordinary concludes that A Million & Me boosted children’s wellbeing by working within everyday relationships and settings, such as at home, in the community, and in schools. Many projects created digital tools and resources, especially during Covid lockdowns, which enable children and parents to learn more about mental health in their own time and improve communication.
The report recommends further investment from governments and charitable funders in programmes to boost children’s mental health and prevent later problems. Recognition of the value of fun, company and choice highlights the need for local networks of support to be sustained and connected.
Centre for Mental Health chief executive Dr Sarah Hughes said: “BBC Children in Need has made a huge difference through A Million & Me. Not only have they helped tens of thousands of children and their families directly. They have also shown what can be achieved by focusing on everyday relationships, places and activities in promoting better mental health. A Million & Me will have a powerful legacy and I hope it will help to shape mental health promotion activity in the years to come.”
Director of BBC Children in Need’s A Million & Me programme, Paddy Sloan, commented: “BBC Children in Need has made an exceptional investment in children at this transition age, seeking to avoid mental health problems developing and becoming embedded in later life. We funded creative and innovative work across the UK, helping children to connect with trusted adults, friends and family – how, when and where they wanted. As demands on children’s mental health services increase dramatically, it is heartening and hopeful to realise the power of ordinary, trusted relationships in delivering positive outcomes for children.”