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Jodie Whittaker, Oti Mabuse and Matthew Lewis among those supporting Children’s Mental Health Week

1 February 2021

Young people encouraged to ‘Express Yourself’ in series of activities launched today by BAFTA, Place2Be and Oak National Academy, including:

  • Jodie Whittaker kicks-off the week with national virtual school assembly
  • Strictly’s Oti Mabuse, Rocks Actress Bukky Bukray and YouTuber Nikki Lilly lead free online sessions in Acting, Art, Creating Content, Dance and Writing
  • Nationwide search for ‘BAFTA Young Presenter’ begins 

Jodie Whittaker, Oti Mabuse, Bukky Bukray, Matthew Lewis and Nikki Lilly are among well-known faces who have come together to support the seventh annual Children’s Mental Health week. BAFTA, Place2Be and Oak National Academy have launched a series of activities encouraging young people up-and-down the nation to ‘Express Yourself’.

One in six children and young people have a diagnosable mental health problem, and many continue to have these problems into adulthood. Since the pandemic, Place2Be’s school-based mental health professionals estimate that 85% of the young people they support have been negatively affected. 

BAFTA, Place2Be and Oak National Academy have come together to address this issue, using creativity and self-expression which are proven to have a positive impact on young people’s mental health.

This week’s activity includes:

  • Jodie Whittaker, Matthew Lewis, Nikki Lilly and Sharna Jackson join the nationwide virtual assembly on Oak National Academy, which educates 2.5 million users each week. Hosted by Blue Peter Presenter Lindsey Russell and CBBC presenter Rhys Stephenson, the assembly launches the start of Children’s Mental Health week.
  • A series of free virtual sessions from experts including Oti Mabuse and Bukky Bukray, to be released throughout the week on the BAFTA Kids YouTube channel. The sessions will be led by experts and familiar faces across acting, art, content creation, dance and writing. 
  • The fifth annual BAFTA Young Presenter Competition, in partnership with Sky Kids: FYI, discovers a new on-screen star aged between seven and 14. Launching today, the 2021 competition invites children to create a short video on how they express themselves. The competition offers the opportunity to present for BAFTA Kids as well as present a feature on the popular Sky Kids TV show, FYI. Previous winners have gone on to interview stars at BAFTA events, including Tom Hiddleston and BAFTA President HRH The Duke of Cambridge.

At the nationwide assembly, with Oak National Academy, Jodie Whittaker said: “Expressing yourself allows you to get really creative. We know physical exercise is good for us, but a healthy mind needs to exercise its imagination. This week I hope to see children, parents, carers, teachers, all of you brilliant people coming together and finding ways to express yourself.”

Tim Hunter, Director of learning, inclusion & talent at BAFTA, said “We’re so excited to be bringing a whole host of activity to young people across the country this week with our wonderful partners, Place2Be. Never before has it been more important for us to nurture the mental wellbeing of young people. Whether it be through our online sessions or by entering the Young Presenter Competition – I encourage all young people across the nation to get involved in some self-expression this Children’s Mental Health Week!”

Catherine Roche, CEO at Place2Be, said “Self-expression and play are at the heart of Place2Be’s mental health support in schools, helping children to explore and understand their feelings and boost their wellbeing. This Children’s Mental Health Week, during such a challenging time, we’re delighted to be partnering with BAFTA and Oak National Academy to spread the message about the value of self-expression. We hope this fantastic assembly and the virtual sessions will inspire children, schools and families across the UK to express their emotions in whichever way they choose, whether that’s through art, music, drama dance or any other form of creativity.”

Matt Hood, Principal of Oak National Academy, said: “We know the challenges that the pandemic has brought, and in particular the strain it is causing for our young people. Children’s Mental Health Week is so important, this year more than ever before, and we are delighted to do our part in supporting millions of young people to prioritise mental wellbeing through expressing themselves.”

Notes to Editors

Aimed at primary school pupils and free to access in the Oak National Academy classroom, the assembly is available to view from 9am today at

The online sessions titled ‘I Express Myself Through’ will be released throughout the week on the BAFTA Kids YouTube Channel, including:

Acting with Bukky Bukray (Rocks), Kia Pegg (The Dumping Ground), Patrick Ward (Jamie Johnson) and Tom Clarke-Hill (Robozuna)
Art with Hannah Brooks (Aardman), Annabelle Davis (The Dumping Ground), Oli Hyatt (Blue Zoo Studios) and Ayo Norman-Williams.
Creating Content with Nikki Lilly, Luke Franks, director Jermain Julien, comedian Inel Tomlinson
Dance with Oti Mabuse, JJ Chalmers, choreographer Christina Andrea
Writing with Shaun Duggan (Jamie Johnson), Sharna Jackson (High Rise Mystery), James Lamont (The Adventures of Paddington) and Holly Phillips (Get Even)

To enter the BAFTA Young Presenter Competition, in partnership with Sky Kids: FYI, go to

Clip of Jodie Whittaker at the national assembly are available for broadcast use, available here: (Credit: BAFTA/Place2Be/Oak National Academy)

Photography is available here:


NHS Digital (2020), Mental Health of Children and Young People in England,: Wave 1 follow up to the 2017 survey: 

For further information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Sophie Dudhill / Press Officer
T 020 7292 5863
E [email protected] / [email protected]

Amy Leonard / Oak National Academy

T 07960 116966

E [email protected]


The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is a world-leading independent arts charity that brings the very best work in film, games and television to public attention and supports the growth of creative talent in the UK and internationally. Through its Awards ceremonies and year-round programme of learning events and initiatives – which includes workshops, masterclasses, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes in the UK, USA and Asia – BAFTA identifies and celebrates excellence, discovers, inspires and nurtures new talent, and enables learning and creative collaboration. For advice and inspiration from the best creative minds in working in film, games and television, visit For more, visit

About BAFTA Kids

BAFTA Kids is a programme of events and initiatives for families across the UK run by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, offering insight into creative excellence within film, television and games. The programme features behind-the-scenes roadshows, workshops and masterclasses with BAFTA-winning talent and competitions. Whereas BAFTA’s annual British Academy Children’s Awards recognise and celebrate excellence within these industries, BAFTA Kids is a trusted and accessible brand for families to explore and discover new, innovative and non-mainstream work, helping them deepen their appreciation of the films, television programmes and games they enjoy.

About Place2Be

Place2Be is the UK’s leading children's mental health charity providing school-based support and in-depth training programmes to improve the emotional wellbeing of pupils, families, teachers and school staff.

Its whole school approach involves working in partnership with schools, teams of mental health professionals help to create a culture of openness and promote positive mental health. This ensures that potential problems can be identified at an early stage and that children can access support in a safe and familiar environment. 

The charity’s Mental Health Champions – Foundation programme is funded for up to 50,000 UK teachers and school staff this year. 93% of participants feel that the course has increased their capacity to lead a positive approach to mental health and wellbeing.

HRH The Duchess of Cambridge became Patron of Place2Be in 2013, reflecting her personal interest in and commitment to improving the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children. / Twitter @Place2Be / Facebook @place2becharity

About Oak National Academy 

Oak National Academy is an online classroom and resource hub created by teachers, for teachers. It provides nearly 10,000 high-quality video lessons and resources, with content across primary, secondary and specialist schools. It was created in April 2020 as a national response to the pandemic, with teachers and education experts creating online lessons. Since the start of the pandemic children have taken part in over 75 million lessons with 2.5 million pupils accessing the site each week since school closures in January 2021.

Visit for free access to 10,000 lessons and support for schools and teachers. Visit the classroom at and find us on social media @OakNational.