Children find comfort in the power of the pen during lockdown

Wednesday, 29th April 2020, 12:25 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th April 2020, 12:25 pm
Writing helps young people's mental health during turbulent times.

Half of children and young people are finding that writing down their feelings are helping them deal with their sadness during lockdown.

Over a quarter (27%) of children and young people write down their feelings on paper once a week or more. They said that writing down their thoughts and feelings on paper, rather than typing on a phone or laptop was the most effective way to ‘process’ how they are feeling.

Almost a third (31%) who wrote for therapeutic benefits said it helped them deal with difficult family situations and issues. Other ways in which children and young people said writing down their feelings helped, included finding the solution to a problem and stopping them from saying something they didn’t mean.

The research among 1,200 participants aged 11 to 21, released by Royal Mail in conjunction with Children and The Prince’s Trust, shows that writing is important for preserving mental health especially at the current time.

A toolkit has been launched by the three partners to help children explore their feelings through the power of the pen. The toolkit Can’t Talk, Write includes tips, advice and exercises to help improve mental and emotional wellbeing. To download the toolkit, go to www.actionforchildren.org.uk/cant-talk-write

Keeping a daily record in a diary can help young people process their feelings.

Harvey Sparrow, 17, of Worcester said writing helped support his mental health when he was going through tough times.

“Writing means I can explore my thoughts and feelings by attaching words to them - which stops them from becoming overwhelming and something bigger in your head,” he said. “I write almost every day and have a diary which I started a couple of years ago when I was going through some big mental health struggles. It began as a place for me to record my day because I couldn’t remember things when I was feeling anxious. Seeing my thoughts and feelings as words on a page in front of me, makes me more inclined to deal with my problems. I really think it could help other people like me through the coronavirus lockdown.”

Carol Iddon, deputy chief executive at Action for Children, said: “The coronavirus crisis has exploded into the lives of children and young people at a time when huge numbers were already suffering mental health problems like anxiety and depression, only adding to the emotional pressure they were already under.

“Every day our frontline services see the pain and worry children face as they struggle to understand how they fit into the world – and now in the midst of a global pandemic, we need to reduce the toll on mental health by giving them practical ways to cope.

“At a time where we’re navigating a complex 24/7 world with constant stimulation from social media, the power of the pen could be a valuable tool for helping children to stay calm during these unprecedented times.”

David Gold, director of public affairs and policy at Royal Mail said: “As the research suggests, writing is an important tool for preserving and improving mental health and this is especially important during such times of uncertainty.”

Alice Granville, senior head of research and development at The Prince’s Trust, adds: “It’s encouraging to see from this research that young people are using writing as a way to express themselves and to take stock of how they’re feeling.”