Children In Need removes Pudsey’s bandana for Mental Health Awareness Week

BBC Children In Need has launched a new Behind The Bandana campaign to mark Mental Health Awareness Week.

The charity has temporarily removed mascot Pudsey’s eye covering to show “not all of the challenges that children and young people may be facing are visible”, the broadcaster said.

The campaign encourages conversations between children and parents, carers and other trusted adults “to ensure no child faces their emotional and mental health challenges alone”.

Behind the Bandana ambassador Dr Alex George
Behind The Bandana ambassador Dr Alex George (BBC/PA)

Former Love Island contestant Dr Alex George, who has campaigned for better mental health after the death of his 19-year-old brother Llyr by suicide in 2020, has been named Behind The Bandana ambassador.

He said: “I know how important early intervention is in helping make a difference to the emotional wellbeing of children and young people and so I am very proud to be the ambassador of such a powerful campaign that really shines a light on the mental health crisis we are facing.

“As highlighted by Pudsey bear himself, mental health issues can be less visible on the outside, but conversations and positive relationships really can help.”

As part of the campaign, Children In Need has released the findings of a new Censuswide survey shedding light on how comfortable children feel when asking for help with their feelings and how often they feel the need to put on their “metaphorical bandana” and hide their emotions.

While nine in 10 parents surveyed said they talk to their child about their mental health at least once a month, more than a quarter of young people surveyed said they had not talked to someone they trust about their mental health in the last six months.

Children In Need’s boss Simon Antrobus said: “This research is a clear indication that our Behind The Bandana campaign is urgently needed.

“What’s also clear is that we can all play a role in addressing early signs of worry and anxiety by showing children and young people that we’re here to listen and to support them.

“By recognising and acknowledging that some feelings of worry and anxiety can be hidden means early conversations, sensitively delivered with kindness and empathy, can make a real difference to a child’s wellbeing and can help prevent mental health problems from becoming embedded.”