My job currently is, to put it bluntly, an overpaid child minder. I live every day surrounded by teenage boys. Every day. And none of them are mine.
Because of this, as you can imagine, I know quite a bit about mental health in young people, I even did a few courses in it in my time. My parents always say "this wasn't around when I was little or you were little" but I bet if they look back, as I often do, they'd notice the signs that it's always been there.
Our parent's problem, and actually also my generations problem too, was we grew up before Facebook and having an online presence became the norm. We didn't have access to what the average child of today will have - my house was on very slow AOL dial up until I was about 11, whereas now most children can log onto the internet and look up anything so easily - I even know a baby that can unlock an iPhone yet cannot talk or walk yet.
I don't remember hearing about the word "anxiety" until I was about 14, and even then I didn't really get that it could be something serious, until about 7 years later when I described how I was feeling to a friend and she advised me to speak to someone because that "pit in my chest that has been there for weeks" was probably a very long anxiety attack. Nowadays, children can look up about mental health online and having the knowledge can manifest itself into them, making them self aware and maybe more prone to feeling certain ways - that's not scientific or proven that's just what I have gathered from my work with children. You could relate it to the pandemic and coronavirus now - aren't you more self aware about coughing or your temperature or how you're feeling at the moment because there's a pandemic going on?
I think we need to help children and young people with identifying when they're feeling down or anxious, and help them with their resilience so bouts of anxious or sad feelings don't manifest into conditions like depression and anxiety. Resilience is a skill anyone can teach, from parents to doctors and teachers, and I believe it's the way we can help everyone now and in the future. If the funding isn't going to improve for children's mental health services, we need to find ways of helping them ourselves. That's certainly what I try to teach my boys - the skill to self-heal, and to know how and when to ask for help.
For more information, go to Children's Mental Health Week 2021
I'm actually fundraising for Mind on GivePenny by taking part in the challenge 27 27
I will be running 27 miles in 27 days in March. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm not great at running, but this cause is important, and any donations would be greatly appreciated by all those at Mind. I'll be documenting my running on my Strava page.