The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

World Mental Health Day 2018

A whole school day was dedicated to discussing mental health and well-being to mark World Mental Health Day. I welcome the more open dialogue on the pressures faced by children and young adults that could have a profound effect on their well being and the importance of building mental resilience to help them face the many stressful conditions they will come up against as they move through adolescence.

It is a concern for me as a parent to three young children who are growing up in a digital world so different to the childhood that I had. Certainly there exists the same issues that were there some 35 years ago such as friendships and being accepted and not being excluded for whatever reason.  There are now new ones that have arisen through the widespread introduction of technology into our everyday lives.

#3 asked for an iPad for her Birthday, which she didn’t get, because to her it seemed like a normal thing to ask for. I can imagine what she would most likely use it for is to watch YouTube videos of people unwrapping LOLs. If left to her own devices, she could probably spend hours doing that. In our household, much like most others, I have daily requests for tv time, iPad time, games console time or time on my phone. If they have time on one form of technology, they think it should be acceptable that they can have time on another form too because they are not the same. It’s not that I say No all the time, I would just feel better if I saw them out playing and having fun with their friends too. Whilst the weather is still good, we are out at the park after school everyday and it makes me feel good to see them playing and I get a chance to talk to other grown up people. All of us feel good.

Technology in all its form has simplified many aspects of life but makes parenting more complicated.

The message that #1, 2 and 3 bring back today is the importance of liking your physical and emotional self and how to take care of both. More importantly how to take care of each other. The school promotes meditation club as an extracurricular activity, they do yoga and from today they are engaging in a ‘fill your bucket’ activity. It’s an initiative to encourage children to be kind to themselves and others, to help them think of what would be a kind act that would help you fill your bucket today. By filling your bucket with kindness, brings happiness and at the end of the day, you think of how this could share the happiness.

In an age of growing isolation, lost art of communication, suspicion of others and time, I think this is an important initiative and life skill to bestow upon children. To support their well being and ability to look out for others. In my recent experience of feeling less than emotionally strong and mentally tired, the difference to your a day is when someone notices that you need someone to ask “How have you been?” and not be afraid of what you say.

I don’t know how many schools have a team of counsellors on site that look after the emotional well being of children who attend the school. It was a pleasant surprise to discover this when #1, 2 and 3 joined last year. I asked the team what kind of support was provided to the children and I was told that it’s a cozy space that children of all ages can come to talk about anything that is on their mind. It can range from building confidence, chatting about friendship concerns to helping children make sense of some of the deeper emotions that they may be feeling due to circumstances at home.

I think we’re very lucky that school provides this valuable resource. Even if you never have to use it, you know that’s its there. That there is always someone who will listen if you need to talk. And just being someone who will listen will make all the difference.

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