PUPILS from Kilwinning’s Abbey Primary visited the Scottish Parliament last Thursday as part of Children’s Mental Health Week.

The theme of this year’s campaign was ‘Being Ourselves’ – encouraging children and young people to feel comfortable with who they are and celebrate what makes them unique.

Low self-esteem affects more than eight in 10 of the pupils who receive children’s mental health charity Place2Be’s one-to-one support, but when children are supported to have a positive view of themselves it can help to find the inner strength and resilience to cope with life’s challenges.

To support the week and help Place2Be celebrate ‘Being Ourselves’ ministers welcomed children from Abbey, alongside pupils from St Catherine’s Primary School and Oakwood Primary School to hear about how they are embracing this year’s theme.

The children presented a range of artwork and film projects celebrating their own and each other’s unique strengths and qualities.

Jonathan Wood, National Manager for Place2Be in Scotland said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to bring together ministers and children to celebrate ‘Being Ourselves’. “Surely one of the best defences we can give our children against poor mental health is a sense of confidence in who they are, rather than who we, or society in general, thinks they ought to be.”

Maree Todd MSP, Minister for Childcare and Early Years said: “It has been great to meet the pupils from St Catherine’s, Abbey and Oakwood primary schools to hear what this year’s theme of ‘Being Ourselves’ means to them and the things that can make that difficult to put into practice. We need to be able to reassure all children and young people that, as they grow up and experience new things, they should feel able to talk about them with trusted friends and adults.”

Maureen Watt MSP, Minister for Mental Health said: “We’re working to eradicate the stigma all too often associated with mental ill health.

“Working with young people we can ensure that they grow up knowing that mental good health has to be nurtured and looked after in the same way that physical health does.

“Lots of us experience mental ill health at some time and it is vital that people know to seek help as early action is the best route to recovery.”

Place2Be is the UK’s leading children’s mental health charity providing in-school support and expert training to improve the emotional wellbeing of pupils, families, teachers and school staff. Its support helps children and young people to cope with a range of issues such as bereavement, family breakdown, domestic violence, addiction, neglect and trauma.