As parents, we know that children are more likely to imitate behaviour than follow instructions. And there’s the clue. We can help our children look after their well-being by finding the courage to first do so ourselves.
We’d like our children to ask for help when they are feeling overwhelmed. The most powerful way, however, to let them know it is ok is to demonstrate it ourselves. It takes courage to speak about our fears and worries. But if they witness a parent go through the process of seeking help and healing, the child is more likely to do so themselves when the need arises.
Children can surprise us with their resilience and courage when faced with tough life situations but their chances of bouncing back increase manifold when they get the right support from their parent or trusted adult.
Growing up in inner city London is not easy. According to research, 10% of children and young people between the age of 5 and 16 years have a diagnosable mental health problem such as anxiety and depression.
Newham is buzzing with cultural diversity and a young, vibrant population. But a multitude of factors also come together to paint quite a bleak picture. It is found that compared to London and England, the borough has a higher estimated prevalence across all types of mental health disorders. Ideas linked to knife crime and gang culture have also surreptitiously entered their lexicon and immediate awareness, which directly or indirectly affects their sense of well-being.
Is it possible then, in this scenario, to equip our children and young people with the tools they need to be happy, healthy individuals? Yes. And, one of the most powerful ways of instilling that is by looking after your own mental health and wellbeing. You can make small everyday decisions that prioritise your health and happiness. But when life gets too perplexing as it can, do not hesitate to reach out for support.
Counselling and Talking therapies can be accessed independently or through your GP when you need to detangle thoughts and emotions that may be too overwhelming to cope with all alone.
To have someone to listen to your anxieties and fears without judging you or rushing to speak about themselves or offering advice, allowing you to peel layers until you reach the core of what is causing the upset- that is priceless, and something we all can use from time to time.
Written by Ghazal, HeadStart Peer Parenting Facilitator.
HeadStart Newham was featured in a CYPNow special report on mental health in schools that…
Little Ilford School student Eythan answers the top questions about work experience placements at HeadStart.