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'Words for Wellbeing' video launch

Monday 3rd February marked the start of Children’s Mental Health Week and improving mental health outcomes for young people is a global priority. To coincide with Children’s Mental Health Week, we launched our new video “Words for Wellbeing – Why language is important for mental health” which presents some of the research findings from the Surrey Communication and Language in Education Study (SCALES) as well as considering the importance of tailoring current verbally-mediated mental health therapies for those with language difficulties. The film was funded by our ESRC research grant, and a British Academy grant to Dr Shaun Goh, who has visited our lab twice. Here we go ‘behind-the-scenes’ to explain a little more about how the video was made.

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One of the primary research aims of SCALES now our children are adolescents, is to investigate how early language skills are linked to social and emotional wellbeing in later life. In an up-and-coming research paper, Dr Shaun Goh has used longitudinal data from SCALES to understand the links between early language skills and later social and emotional behaviours, using teacher-reported outcomes on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). The SDQ is a brief behavioural screening tool which identifies (1) emotional symptoms, (2) conduct problems, (3) hyperactivity / inattention, (4) peer relationship problems, and (5) prosocial behaviour. Furthermore, in Years 6 & 8, we have been collecting data to measure both emotion recognition and emotion regulation skills in our cohort.

In creating ‘Words for Wellbeing’, it was essential that people truly understand the impact of DLD, and what better way to do this than by speaking to someone with DLD themselves? Juliet Wright (@julietwri) kindly offered to share her experiences (and voice) for our video and we are very grateful for her invaluable input!

Finally, we held workshops with some of our young SCALES participants to generate further ideas for the video. We discussed what mental health means to them and how language can play a role in both social and emotional wellbeing. Whilst the children came up with many situations where using language is important to communicate and resolve difficulties, the most commonly discussed was using language to talk to and resolve problems with peers, which went on to form the introduction to the video!

With a room full of ‘Generation-Z’ children who are ever-more influenced and engaged in digital technology, we also discussed ‘What makes a good You-Tube video?’ and asked them to use their creativity to generate ideas for the format of the video before discussing their ideas. By the end of the sessions we had storyboards, spider diagrams, scripts, and lots of interesting ideas to work with. Of particular interest was that the children were keen to keep their faces behind the scenes and not in front of the camera – suggesting that an animation would be most suitable for the video, whilst also being accessible to all ages.

The last thing we needed was a fantastic animator and the talented @Paupanimation is just that! We contacted him with our ideas and with a 4-minute slot to fill, we spent hours writing and re-writing the script to get it just right. Before we knew it, Pau had turned what was initially a few-hundred words into the wonderful creation now appearing on RADLD You-Tube.

The response to the video has been better than we could have ever imagined and we hope that it is generating lots of discussion and ideas amongst teachers and clinicians throughout the country- and possibly world-wide!

Finally, a huge thank you to everyone who has been involved in SCALES and in the making of the video and also to everyone who has liked, shared and commented on it. We really do appreciate all your support!

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This year’s Children’s Mental Health Week theme is ‘Find your Brave’. 

Place2be: ‘Bravery comes in all shapes and sizes and is different for everyone. Bravery can be about sharing worries and asking for help, trying something new or pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. Finding your Brave can build your confidence, self-esteem and make you feel good about yourself.’