I remember the first time I picked up a blade and held it against my skin and I remember the first time I picked up a box of pills and thought about taking them all at once.. I was 15; was this the first time I had thought about it? No! Was this the first time I felt that alone or desperate? No!
Mental health and its importance has become a topic to be taken more seriously over the years, it is something that today can be more openly discussed but many people are still blinded to the enormity of the statistical facts surround mental health issues and the resulting affects thereof.
We live in a world that is as closed as it is open and as cruel as it is good we live in a world where people are encouraged to seek help and yet shamed at the same time, where help isn't as freely available especially to the less fortunate as our governments would like to believe and in many cultures mental health issues are still severely understood and seen as something evil or bad.
I have 2 special needs children who both suffered greatly with different forms of anxiety and who have both shown signs of depression- statistically children with special needs are more likely to show and experience symptoms/ signs and forms of depression and anxiety as well as self harm. When Loghan was first diagnosed I remember reading up on the statistics and my heart sank, having 2 parents; their dad and I who already have mental health disorders/ learning disorders of our own it was an incredibly daunting thought that my own children may experience the pain and loneliness and the feeling of disconnection which I have.
After a year of working closely with our students and over the years of the boys being in various schools and visiting various doctors/ psychologists/ psychiatrists I have seen and heard stories that have broken my heart ten times over, I have met a boy who is the age of one of my own children who has attempted to take his life on more than one occasion and who has institutionalized more than once; a vibrant amazing boy with so much to give held hostage by the bullies he faced at school on a daily basis, I have seen tears and the pain of children who cannot understand why they cant just be 'normal' like the other kids because then they would have friends, many of these kids have reached out to teachers and have not received the help or attention they so desperately need, many are made to feel at fault or are excluded for their differences rather than encouraged, what does a child do when they are told to reach out and are shut down or when they are constantly told that they need to try harder to fit in when there is nothing wrong with them they simply function differently to their peers and they shouldn't be made to feel ashamed of that.
We need to talk to our children about mental health their own as well as that of their peers and loved ones. We need to ensure that they know that they can reach out to us and that they will be heard, that it is ok to feel the way that they may feel but that they can work through it and you will get them the help they need if they need it and that if they ever have a friend that is displaying signs of mental health issues, depression or anxiety they need to reach out and help that friend to get the help they need and be part of their support.
WE can make the change, we can provide the help and support that our children need and encourage them to share that support and understanding with those around them, we can make ours and the voices of those who are no longer standing beside heard and we can create the awareness needed to change the perception of those who are not aware or do not see.
I came across an article that I think has some great points on how to broach this subject with your child and I would like to encourage my readers to take the time to do this because it is something that our children should all be aware of for themselves as well as others, mental health is so incredibly important and no one should ever be made to feel ashamed of their feelings or the state of their mental health.