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

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

UK, Monday 1 February 2021: 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, available now on the BAFTA Kids and Teens 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 News: 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 News 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.
Credit: BAFTA/Place2Be/Oak National Academy

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 sessons 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.”


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’ are available now on the BAFTA Kids and Teens 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 News: FYI, go to

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