Today is International Boys Day. This annual event, which takes place during Mental Health Awareness Week, aims to promote conversations about boys’ wellbeing and the things they need in order to be happy, healthy and valued.

Thanks to the research of the last few decades, youth work professionals now understand the importance of supporting children’s mental health. Multiple studies have shown that taking part in sport and opportunities to be creative both increase positive emotions, reduce stress, decrease anxiety and improve the function of the immune system.

Historically, these activities were not seen as a priority. Society generally thought that caring for a child’s physical needs was enough. In the Foundling Hospital, care of the pupils was focused on making sure that they were well-fed, educated, exercised and treated for any illnesses.

However, this does not mean that the pupils were starved of play and creative outputs. Sports and games were a feature of their daily life, they learned to play music and performed plays.

Sadly, in modern culture, boys are still discouraged from talking about their feelings and emotional needs, which is why International Boys Day is important. Through challenging the stigma surrounding boys’ mental health, it is hoped that more young people will feel able to speak up and access the support they need.

Learn about how to access Coram’s creative therapies for children.

For images boys at the Foundling Hospital playing and being creative, see the album below.

  • Boys at summer camp in the 20th century
  • Members of the Foundling Hospital band perform
  • Pupils playing cricket
  • Another shot of boys at summer camp