Learning to manage your emotions is as important as learning to read, says Samaritans

Samaritans is campaigning for children and young people to learn how to be emotionally resilient at school on World Mental Health Day.

The charity has teamed up with mental health activist and poet Hussain Manawer who is releasing a short video called Playground, which encourages adults to think back to a time when life was simpler, looking back to his own childhood.

Hussain said: “From my experiences of going into schools for workshops and talks, young people these days have so much more to contend with, especially with the rise of social media.

“They're faced with an incredible set of challenges that my generation didn't even have to think about. I want Playground to bring a sense of nostalgia and conjure warm feelings, so that when we think back to our own childhoods, we realise just how important it is for us to safeguard the next generation's mental health.”

Playground also has a message for adults, by aiming to show how taking time to focus on small, positive things, especially when life feels overwhelming, can really benefit your wellbeing and mental health.

The video was made by MOFILM, who co-sponsored it. MOFILM filmmaker Alfie Barker shot the video on location, with some scenes filmed at the school Hussain attended in Ilford, Essex. You can watch it online here.

Samaritans runs DEAL, Developing Emotional Awareness and Listening, for young people aged 14 and over in secondary schools. The downloadable lesson plans aim to help young people develop emotional resilience and encourage them to seek help if they need it, and to support friends and family if they are struggling.

It is not the first time Hussain, who is planning to go into space later this year, has worked with Samaritans. Hussain holds a Guinness World Record, partnered with King’s College London and supported by Samaritans, for the world’s largest mental health lesson, which took place earlier this year.

Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland said: “Life can be tough and anyone can struggle. This World Mental Health Day, we want to let people know that whether your childhood was idyllic or difficult, Samaritans is always there for anyone having a tough time. We’ll listen without judging and help you find a way through.

“Emotionally resilient children who can cope with setbacks and disappointments are far better equipped to cope with the pressures of adulthood.”

Marnie Wilson, Assistant Director of Engagement, Samaritans, said: "We are so supportive of Hussain’s work around mental health. He’s helped to empower people of all ages to talk about difficult thoughts and feelings. Not only reducing stigma, but also helping to ensure that people are better equipped to take care of their own mental health, as well as those around them. We look forward to working with Hussain on many more projects to come."

Suicide prevention campaigner Luke Ambler, who set up Andy’s Man Club after his brother in law took his own life, said: “Everyone, men, women and children, need to know it is okay to speak out and ask for help if they are struggling, and the teaching of emotional resilience and well-being at school should be a priority.”

For more information and interviews, please contact press@samaritans.org or 020 8394 8396.

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Notes to editors:

  • You can call Samaritans for free any time from any phone on 116 123 (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch.
  • Samaritans responds to more than 5.7 million calls for help every year
  • It is the public’s kind donations which keep Samaritans service going. To donate please go to:  https://www.samaritans.org/support-us/donate-online