Mental Health Training

Playing to Your Strengths, By Jane McNeice

Posted by on 3 Mar, 2017 in Mental Health | 0 comments

Playing to Your Strengths, By Jane McNeice

When Mind Matters was invited to contribute to the delivery of an innovative new programme to support families with their mental health we were delighted at the opportunity!

‘Playing to Your Strengths’ is a pioneering new programme of delivery working with families in the Dearne area of Barnsley/Rotherham. Families would be supported by Mind Matters and other partners, including lead partner Station House Community Association, through the internationally recognised Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid training to develop and raise their awareness and understanding of mental health to support both themselves and their children, who are aged between 5-11.

The ‘Playing to Your Strengths’ programme is aimed at families who feel a bit over-whelmed at times and are interested in doing things a bit differently. It is an opportunity to make changes. Through their years of experience working with families in a childcare setting, staff at Station House Community Association were able to identify groups of families that were struggling with day-to-day issues. It was of course acknowledged and accepted that the programme couldn’t remove these problems, but what we could offer was help to equip the families to better cope with them and the associated stress. The programme supports the whole family, including parents, step-parents, other significant adults, and of course the children themselves.

The four week programme works with adults and children in their separate groups. On weeks one to three the children work with a professional Play Therapist to learn how to use play to better manage the children’s own worries and concerns. Play is essential in every child’s life, but with educational pressures and other modern day distractions most children get limited opportunities to learn about play.

For the adults during weeks one and two, they would receive training from Mind Matters in the 3 hour Mental Health First Aid Lite and Youth Mental Health First Aid Lite courses, giving parents a raised understanding that aids early intervention, raises mental health literacy, and introduces the skills and knowledge to better manage mental health and wellbeing within the family.

During week three, families will work with a professional Parenting Support Worker, learning about very practical and realistic parenting challenges. Further support will be provided after the four week program in the form of a home visit to each family.

Week four of the ‘Playing to Your Strengths’ program will bring all the families, learning, and support providers together to discuss ways forward to benefit the families, and will also be an opportunity to celebrate the completion of the program and where all families will take part in a play activity designed by the children themselves. Families will be issued with course certificates from the two mental health courses, and support packs provided for future reference and family support.

The Playing to Your Strengths program is being professionally evaluated to capture future needs of the families and specific key outcomes which may include:

  • Adults feel better informed about how poor mental health can have an adverse effect on family wellbeing
  • Children can identify a range of play based strategies to self-manage stress times in their lives
  • Adults report feeling better able to self-manage challenges that evolve in family life
  • Families show a great understanding about the importance of play as a family activity

Station House Community Association and delivery partners are grateful to Coalfields Regeneration Trust for supporting the delivery of the ‘Playing to Your Strengths’ program, which we hope will make a significant positive difference to the families involved.



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