World Mental Health Day
Today is World Mental Health Day and boy, never has a conversation about our mental health been so needed!
Life is tough right now. For our children and for us.
Many of us feel ravaged by uncertainty and fear. We’re living through circumstances we never anticipated we’d experience. We’re worried about our families, about the impact the pandemic is having on our children, and tragically, some people are mourning the loss of their loved ones.
If any of this is familiar to you or your family, then I’m really sorry. You have my full sympathy.
I understand the torture of mental illness. And it really can be torture, for children and adults alike.
I’ve struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember, and particularly across the last 15 years. It was exacerbated by a few very difficult years in which it felt as though nothing in my life was going right.
- Anxiety, as painful as it is, became a coping mechanism. If I can anticipate threat, then I can protect myself. If I ruminate, then I can solve a problem. If I shut myself away, I can’t get hurt.
- Anxiety hasn’t left me, and I doubt it ever completely will. But I’ve taken steps, with the help of therapists and my family, to find healthier ways of dealing with uncertainty.
I’m not a qualified mental health practitioner and thus I would never dream of telling anybody else how they should care for their mental health, and that of their children. So, instead, I’ve dug out a few resources and tips from the experts that I hope you and your little ones might find helpful.
1. Use books to start a conversation about mental health with children
The Book Trust provides a brilliant list of books for children that are aimed at exploring mental health, opening up a conversation, and reducing stigma.
They also, very helpfully, set these out by age group so you can decide what book is suitable for your child.
Check out their list here.
2. Be there to listen
This is just one piece of advice the NHS gives to parents or carers who are concerned about their children’s mental health.
They also offer valuable tips on how to start a conversation about mental health and how to deal with difficult behaviour and emotions.
Check out their resources here.
3. Make sure you and your little ones get some ZZZ’s
The NHS tell us that good sleep is important for your child’s physical and mental health. They also offer some words of wisdom on just how to make that happen.
I tested this last night, and trust me, it works as well for adults as it does for children – I slept like a baby!
Check out their snoozy snippets here.
4. A conversation about coronavirus
This pandemic has exposed our lack of control. Nobody knows what’s around the corner, and if that’s getting to us, chances are it’s getting to our children too.
Young Mind are offering support to parents seeking to walk their children through this hard season. Their website offers many resources, but they have a specific section on how to support children through the pandemic.
Check out their wisdom here.
5. Lean on someone
‘They’ say that you can’t look after anyone if you don’t look after yourself. I’m not sure that’s always true. I see so many parents, grandparents and carers on their knees with life’s stresses, and yet they somehow summon the energy to look after their children and others. But what is absolutely true is that we should look after ourselves too.
If you feel you need help, do talk to someone. It could be a friend or family member, your GP who can refer you for support, or any other form of support service.
And if you are on your knees, and feeling desperate, do know that help is there. The Samaritans are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please know that you’re not alone. Here at Annabee’s Books we want to build a community. Feel free to reach out to us directly or start a conversation via our social media channels.
We know life is hard right now. We know you are doing the best you can by the children in your lives. We think you are wonderful, and we’ve got your back.