Primary schoolchildren have created a symbolic ‘tree of connection’ for Children’s Mental Health Week.

The event is an annual national awareness week, which ran this year from February 6 to 12.

The week was launched by UK children’s mental health charity, Place2Be in 2015, and is designed to shine a spotlight on the importance of children and young people’s mental health.

Local mental health charity Isle Listen says it has been overwhelmed by the response to its large-scale ‘Tree of Connection’ art project from primary schoolchildren for the awareness week.

Primary schools and children across the island were invited to contribute to the collective art piece by creating individual colourful handprints that contained all the names of the people they have a connection with.

More than 2,000 handprints were received and represent the leaves on the tree which has now been installed at Isle Listen’s main Mill Court Centre in Castletown.

The theme for this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week was ‘let’s connect’.

The charity provides free mental health support and services in the island’s primary and secondary schools.

It has continued to see a rise in the number of young people needing help and support with their mental health and wellbeing,

In 2022, it received 1,337 referrals of children and young people for one-to-one support.

Through the art project, it aimed to highlight the importance of children making ‘healthy, rewarding, and meaningful’ connections as a way of building ‘positive relationships’.

The charity says that frequently connecting through friendships and relationships is fundamental and provides a huge boost to children’s mental health and self- esteem.

Steven Downward, Isle Listen’s schools lead, said: ‘Sadly, a lack of meaningful connections is a key driver in loneliness and anxiety.

‘This project enabled us as part of our wider primary school educational programme, to highlight to children the importance of recognising the friendships and relationships that support them.

‘Each handprint represents the different personalities of young people we are so fortunate to work with and we know that the symbolism of the tree also represents the unique connections we all have as an Island community.’

He added: ‘We can’t thank enough all the schools and young people that participated.’

Isle Listen has recently received a donation of £500 from Sure’s community fund.

Emma Callin, head of fundraising at Isle Listen, said: ‘We are so grateful for support like this. It means we can continue to provide our services to schools and young people free of charge.

Donations from business, individuals and the local community are vital to enable Isle Listen to support young people on the Isle of Man and Sure’s generous donation is really appreciated.’