The simple fact that we can mark Children’s Mental Health Week now is important to me for many different reasons writes Rhoda, counsellor with our Young People’s Service.
Here in 2021 it feels like we really are getting to a place where mental health can be spoken about openly. I know we don’t need this week to tell you to seek counselling because so many of you are doing it already. We have a generation of children and young people who feel it’s kind of normal to ask for help. I know this because I’ve seen it change.
Just ten years ago when I was finishing my training to be a counsellor, we were starting to decide if the Young People’s Service here at Children North East could have a counselling service. Would people even attend? Would anyone want it to be part of a normal youth centre? And the answer was overwhelmingly yes, young people wanted that far more than they wanted to feel like they were ‘mad’ if they had to go to a cold, white, doctor’s office. Back then I went to schools to help people and it was only just starting to be normal to have a counsellor in school. Teachers’ attitudes have changed, parents’ attitudes have changed.
This week has the important role of letting us speak to everyone about mental health, not just the people who need it right now. We all have mental health, it can be something that is feeling healthy or not. We can have bad days or sad days or days we are quite worried and people will say that now.
Many adults worry that young people are using this language inappropriately and sometimes that can be true. But for the most part, I am just happy that someone will say how they feel, will notice if their child hasn’t been coming out of their room as much or there’s been a change in someone. We notice and we ask if we can help. The advice isn’t always perfect and the help can’t always be there quickly but it is growing into something normal.
I feel how important this is because the main reason I do what I do comes from the time in my life when all my friends were ignored and labelled and passed over. I stood in a phone box with my best friend while they rang Childline because that was the only thing we knew to do. We had nowhere to go, we had no message services to reach a worker, there was no one in school to trust. Family members were too stressed or would have blamed us and it really felt no one cared. I don’t want anyone to feel like that again.
And I hope that just seeing a simple post about mental health tells you, you are not alone.
READ more about our Young People’s Service counselling service here