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It’s okay not to be okay - Town player opens up in ‘inspiring’ Ipswich school talk

Kayden Jackson with Whitehouse Primary School children in Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Kayden Jackson with Whitehouse Primary School children in Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Ipswich Town’s Kayden Jackson opened up about missing penalties and coping with defeat during a visit to an Ipswich school to encourage youngsters to take care of their mental health.

Ipswich Town player Kayden Jackson visited children at Whitehouse Primary School with Suffolk Mind to talk about mental health  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNIpswich Town player Kayden Jackson visited children at Whitehouse Primary School with Suffolk Mind to talk about mental health Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The star striker talked openly about setbacks he has faced in his career during the talk to year-five pupils at Whitehouse Primary School, organised by the charity Suffolk Mind.

According to major research conducted by Mind, three in five people aged between 11 and 19 have either experienced a mental health problem themselves or are close to someone who has.

The 25-year-old spoke about some of the challenges he has faced in his career, such as how he feels after the Blues lose a game, in a bid to show youngsters they are not alone in facing problems.

He was even asked directly about a penalty he missed against Fleetwood Town in December, having scored a goal earlier in the game.

Whitehouse Primary School children listening to Kayden Jackson's talk. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNWhitehouse Primary School children listening to Kayden Jackson's talk. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Nicola Brinkley, pastoral lead at the Marlow Road school, said: "He's someone they aspire to and the fact he was here talking about mental health was brilliant.

"He's someone they've probably seen in the media and the fact he opened up about some of the problems he may have faced was really inspiring for the children."

His key message, Miss Brinkley said, was for children "talk to someone" if something is wrong.

"He talked a lot about taking a penalty and how nervous he would get," she added.

A pupil gives Kayden a sticker in the session  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNA pupil gives Kayden a sticker in the session Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

"We encourage children to talk about how they're feeling and the fact someone like him has come to talk about it just hits that message home."

Miss Brinkley said there is so much more pressure on young people today compared to previous generations, because of the increased use of technology and social media on top of the traditional pressures of growing up.

The school has a number of activities to help children manage emotions, such as a 12-week drawing and talking programme where youngsters discuss a picture they have drawn.

"Gone are the days when you have an upset child and you tell them to get on with it," Miss Brinkley said.

Children got to ask Kayden Jackson lots of questions during a workshop about mental health  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNChildren got to ask Kayden Jackson lots of questions during a workshop about mental health Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

"All you do is bottle up those emotions - they have to come out somewhere.

"The children at our school are amazing - they're so emotionally aware, because of the ethos of the school."

The visit on Wednesday, February 5, during Children's Mental Health Week, was organised as part of the EARLY Minds programme to encourage more conversations around mental health.

Jon Neal, chief executive of Suffolk Mind, said: "EARLY Minds is part of an approach which is different to others in that it teaches all of us how to prevent mental ill health, moving beyond teaching them to spot the signs of people already unwell.

"We want to achieve wholesale cultural change, creating environments at school, at home and in the workplace that enable people to get their emotional needs met and prevent mental ill health.

"Whitehouse Primary is one school in Suffolk that has received the training which educates and inspires children by increasing their understanding of emotional wellbeing.

"We're excited that children there will hear about mental health from a popular figure in Suffolk."

Dan Palfrey, from Ipswich Town Football Club, said: "The club have been supporting Suffolk Mind for two seasons now and their EARLY Minds initiative is fantastic.

"It's so important in particular with mental health to be proactive and this is exactly what EARLY Minds sets out to achieve.

"If we can use our profile to raise awareness then it is only a positive."

Suffolk Mind officially launched the EARLY Minds programme in October 2019.

For more details, visit the Suffolk Mind website.

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