HEALTHY YOUNG MINDS
A trip to Romania made Harriet Gore realise how music, movement and activity is so vital to children’s mental health. Sarah Varley finds out more
When Harriet Gore undertook charity work in Romania little did she know it would lead to her helping hundreds of children here in the UK.
“In Romania I saw so many children in hospitals who were having their basic needs met but were suffering from a lack of stimulation,” recalls Harriet.
“This was causing all sorts of developmental and behavioural issues and it really brought home to me how important the early years are in a child’s life and how vital stimulating and enriching activities are for both physical health and mental health and wellbeing.”
Harriet who is now a Mental Health First Aider, firmly believes that her training enables her to recognise when children or their parents are in need of extra support: “I think that if you are working with children and families you should be trained in supporting mental health and wellbeing.
“I have always been very open in sharing my own mental health journey, which seems to help parents open up to me when they need to talk. I suffered from post-natal depression and anxiety and when I started talking about this over 20 years ago, I felt quite alone. I am pleased that these important conversations are getting much more common today, but there is still a long way to go.”
To qualify as a Mental Health First Aider, Lancashire-based Harriet underwent an intensive two-day course which trains students how to recognise the signs that some-one might need support. “The course equips you with the knowledge and the ability to point individuals or families towards the best help available. The course is doing great things in raising awareness that we should be supporting young people’s mental health and wellbeing.”
The Mental Health First Aider Course organisers, Mentis, are currently campaigning for all schools to have a designated Mental Health First Aider who can support pupils.
Harriet has also studied Mental Health and Wellbeing Levels 1 & 2 at Preston College and Supporting Child and Adolescent Mental Health at Wigan College, which covers issues such as anxiety and depression that so many struggle with.
“I’m trained in recognising post-natal depression and signposting parents to the help that is available,” adds Harriet, who runs her own local Rock ‘n’ Learn classes to help families thrive.
“My classes are free to mums with babies under 17 weeks for this very reason – I know how difficult it is just to get out and about in those early days but how vital it is for your wellbeing. I try to make sure my baby classes are my final classes of the day so parents don’t need to rush and they have time to chat to me and to the other mums.”
“It is very important to me that the classes are inclusive. When my own children were small we really struggled with toddler classes because my boys wouldn’t sit still and didn’t fit in with very structured activities and then later my daughter wouldn’t move from my knee and didn’t feel confident to join in with activities.”
“In both cases we felt we didn’t quite belong and that my children couldn’t be themselves, and this can have a very negative effect on wellbeing. I wanted to create something that gently helps children to fit in and follow instructions, something that embraces and promotes their own wonderful individuality so all families would feel welcome,” adds Harriet, who runs classes in the Ribble Valley.
“The whole reason I developed Rock ‘n’ Learn in the first place was to help children and families thrive.”
“I use brain-boosting activities in music and movement classes to help develop creative, happy and empowered children. I have made my classes free to children with disabilities and for parents dealing with mental health issues because my aim is to help all families to thrive in any way I can.”
To find out more visit the facebook page: @rocknlearnuk