Steve Arnott: How We Can Support Our Young People this Children’s Mental Health Week

Steve Arnott, Founder and CEO of Beats Bus Records in Hull, explains how creativity through arts and music could be the key to supporting children's mental health. For Children's Mental Health Week 2023, Steve shares the process and thinking behind Beats Bus Records and how they support young people.

This week is Children’s Mental Health Awareness week and my first reaction when I hear this is sadness. Sad that any child has problems with their mental health growing up when all their life should be filled with is innocence, dreams and belief. My second reaction is the realisation that when we speak about mental health it is very rare that we discuss children; it always seems in my opinion to be adult based. Also, it seems children get labelled very quickly for not being who adults expect them to be. But what never seems to be said is: I wonder if they are struggling with their mental health? 

Poor mental health in young people can come from a lot of different sources. Family, social media, school, peer pressure, identity crisis to name just a few. When you hear that a child has died through suicide it is harrowing and poor mental health, lack of confidence and no sense of belonging can be big contributors to this happening. 

Creativity through arts and music is a great therapeutic approach

So how do we support young people with this? In my opinion creativity through arts and music is a great therapeutic approach, empowering young people and giving them freedom to create and have a voice is one of the ways we can help. At Beats Bus Records, we teach about balance. We try to educate young people around the healthy body, healthy mind approach. Diet, exercise, family, safety and creativity not one on its own but treating all of these as being as important as the other and getting the balance right. We are not doctors, we do not tell our young people what they need, we don’t clip their wings by pushing them into boxes, we let them fly, flourish and give them the power to tell us what they need.

At Beats Bus Records, we teach about balance. We try to educate young people around the healthy body, healthy mind approach.

Recently, we held a session at our studio dedicated to this subject. We wanted to do this for a couple of reasons.  Firstly instead of guessing about the young people’s mental health, we wanted to empower them to disclose if they want to. This will help us safeguard our young people according to their needs. Secondly, music and counselling support work very well together. This approach will let the young people offload their worries.

When I think back, as a young child I had poor mental health. From around the age of 8 my grandad, whom I loved deeply, passed away and shortly after that my mam and dad split up and it ended in a very bad way. I never dealt with either of these traumas. I grew angry and felt I had to protect my mam at all costs and that’s what I did. Back then I was never asked about how I was feeling. If I got upset or did anything out of character, I would get told off for it. It taught me to not speak about my feelings but hide them away so I didn’t get a whack! 

I will always encourage my children to speak about how they feel and tell me if they need help. Both are thriving, thank the lord. We need to start listening to young people instead of assuming what we think is best for them. Asking them how we can help instead of telling them what we think they should do.

We at Beats Bus Records aim to empower young people using the elements of hip-hop creativity. It is the key to set the next generation free, empowering them to speak about children’s mental health awareness week. Listen not tell, ask not yell. We believe we need to equip them with knowledge and tools for their mental health and wellbeing. Each one, teach one, each one, reach one.

My name is Steve, Founder and CEO of Beats Bus Records and I believe the children are our future.

About the Author

Hull resident Steve Arnott was a struggling warehouse worker by day and hip-hop performer by night. After a chance encounter with award-winning documentary maker Sean McAllister, Steve was asked to get involved in a film Sean was making: A Northern Soul. Music is Steve’s passion, writing and performing alongside any job he’s had but he is even more passionate about young people and ensuring that they have the opportunities that he didn’t. He now runs the Hull Beats Bus, a social enterprise mobile recording studio committed to building confidence and giving young people the space to be creative through music and art workshops. They have created a studio for their core students to use to ensure consistency and continuous guidance that they provide for free in their own time. This work is community driven with the direct aim of contributing to positive change for a new generation.

Twitter: @redeyefeenix

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