Around three children in every primary school class experience a mental health problem from bullying to bereavement; the stresses of exams and learning from home. Children’s Mental Health Week has begun, and we need to be talking about it.
(AF links are used in this post).
I don’t like to spend too much of my time thinking about ‘what could have been‘. However, it’s hard not to on occasion. Especially when each year passes, I smile at how mental health becomes a little more present in conversations and society. If I had known more about mental health when I was younger, perhaps, maybe I’d be a bit more sure of who I am.
This week is Children’s Mental Health Week (a week taking place on 1-7 February 2021), with a theme of ‘Express Yourself’.
Place2Be launched the first-ever Children’s Mental Health Week in 2015. The aim was, and is, to place a light on the importance of young people’s mental health. Place2Be believe children should not have to face mental health problems alone; with the pressures of learning at home, and being in lockdown, this year is more important than many before.
Children’s Mental Health Week’s importance is essential for educating and allowing younger minds to share and express their emotions.
While I didn’t know it, I was an anxious child. My poor little brain just assumed that everyone was anxious; they’re brains running through thought, after thought as if it was Sonic The Hedgehog attempting to catch rings. It wasn’t until 2017 when I was diagnosed things slid into place. For so long, I’d been left undiagnosed out of my own fear or just not knowing, which allowed depression to develop too.
I know, as a child or an adult, its normal to worry. But when those worries take over, stopping you from focusing, they become more than just a normal passing worry. It can consume you, fill you with doubt and make you slide into a negative space without realising it.
I experienced all of this a lot as a child.
Although I have a better handle on my mind now as an adult, I still do spend more time worrying than I don’t. My head has been clouded, my confidence shot, and I know there were times when I was younger I felt the same. I doubted what people said to me, lying awake the night before school wondering what it had meant; pushing friends away out of fear I’d lose them; I kept all my emotions in, not wanting to show them. Eventually sobbing uncontrollably because I couldn’t leave the lid on any longer.
Since then, though, I’ve learned coping mechanisms from therapy (I’ve attended CBT three times) and medication. But, before that, I had no idea what was wrong with me.
Children’s Mental Health Week would have been so important to me; it would have helped me recognise that I thought differently, and that was okay. That my feelings were important and holding it all in wouldn’t make me happy. It would have also been nice to know that feeling anxious, nervousness, fright or worry, is something people can feel from time to time and it’s natural; it’s our body’s way of preparing us for a situation that we don’t like. It’s important to recognise when it becomes a problem when it comes overwhelming and challenging to manage.
Having that week would have helped to know that. To be educated, and have our mental health be taken as seriously as our physical health.
The week explores mental health in detail and coping mechanisms such as mindfulness and even recognising when things are becoming too much. Place2Be also provides more information on people who can be reached out to and connections for getting urgent help.
In recent months, especially with lockdown and the pandemic intensifying things, I’ve found journaling and mindfulness a lifesaver.
One of my affiliate partners, LSW Minds, also offers LSW Kids Mind Cards which can help introduce the power of mindfulness, gratitude and affirmations to aid keeping your child to keep calm, understand their feelings and focus on the present. Kids Edition comes with 30 cards, in five categories, including Mindfulness, Today I Am, and Gratitude.
Even at a young age, exploring feelings and emotions can help children recognise when they aren’t feeling themselves; providing opportunities for them to ask for help, space or reach out.
As an adult, journaling has helped me see patterns in how I’m feeling and recognise when a bad day is just a one-off or a pattern, something I know it is essential for me to keep an eye on. LSW also offer their own Mind Cards for Adults and various other resources to help.
If you’re hoping to spread more awareness in your home, family, or loved ones, more information on the Children’s Mental Health can be found here.
When discussing such an important thing, it can be hard to know where to start. Being honest, and open is the first step in opening a healthy conversation with younger minds. You can begin by downloading some of the useful downloads Place2Be or using Mind Cards. Whichever you choose, expressing yourself is not about being the best, but being who you are authentically; being unafraid of feeling good about yourself.
Something I’m sure we can all agree on children should constantly feel, as well as adults.