Children’s Mental Health Week

Just ‘being’ can feel like the hardest thing on earth.

The whole of this week has been Children’s Mental Health week. Set up by children’s mental health charity www.place2be.org.uk. Their theme for this year is Find your Brave. Bringing awareness of the mental struggles that children face. They are helping to ensure that there is always awareness, especially in schools.

Being brave is something that we all are on a daily basis. As children and as adults. But sometimes it doesn’t feel like we are. And for some children, learning to be brave is quite scary. Especially when you think about the world they are growing up in today… 

For me it feels like the world isn’t allowing enough time to find ourselves. All manner of things have sped up our daily routines. There is a greater knowledge bank available – the internet – and however great it is, it can be overwhelming, leading us to feel that we should know things, or are expected to. The higher learning goals in schools and the faster pace of lessons where break time is considered a luxury not a necessity. There are too many chances for comparison, mainly social media but also magazines and TV shows, fracturing our own self beliefs. The time to enjoy things has gotten shorter. Weekends are filled with excursions or homework. And children are finding it harder and harder to entertain themselves, a direct result from constant entertainment from other sources. And this all comes in an age where, we as parents, worry about our children’s safety (in many aspects) and sometimes the nagging fear that we aren’t doing enough for them. There is worry all around. But I feel, slowing down is key to a better understanding and a happier existence. Learning one thing well and letting our brains study the task at hand is surely better than trying to learn five things within a matter of hours. Finding ways to encourage our children to put down their screens and to engage in their immediate surroundings. And openly talk about self care and love for ourselves. But we as parents shouldn’t beat ourselves up about not doing enough. A happy childhood, is time spent together. Memories made. The true essence of children need to be nurtured and celebrated. Once a child has been given the chance to explore their own being, then a happier and more truer and also a more dedicated person evolves. 

Sadly schools are becoming more and more about achievements, goal driven and paperwork driven. Spontanaety has disappeared, along with the excitement to really understand the needs of  a singular child. Nuturing gets over shadowed by ‘good’ behaviour. And tests determine the ‘importance’ of our children. More often than not the teachers express exasperation themselves. Feeling the pressures that they are under to deliver fast paced and ‘productive’ days. Why is that so? It probably partly comes down to time, again, and the speed at which things are expected. Automation of tasks and the ease that this brings to process things. But we aren’t machines, we are living, breathing beings. There is a limit. And teaching our children to acknowledge this limit can only bring better things for their mental health and the future lives of themselves and others.

Silly comparison bit… 🙂

Take a cat, for example, however domesticated it is, it will still do as it pleases. It won’t fall prey to being hurried, it will eat when it’s hungry. It will sleep when it needs to, or wants to and will ask for affection openly (and will surely let you know when it’s had enough!). The natural instincts of cats remain in them. We need to be more like cats 🙂 Taking their time is important and it is to us (or should be). It is so necessary to explore who we each are and what better time to do that, than when we are still growing. A stronger identity and link to ourselves will form. We can’t be told how we should feel, what our passions are, what makes us laugh, cry or get angry with. That is all learned as we grow. The key to ‘being’ is to be in tune with ourselves. Children have a very difficult time with this in this day and age. 

It is so scary to think that so many children have diagnosable mental health problems. According to www.place2be.org.uk, that is 1 in 8 children. They also state that rates of depression and anxiety in teenagers have increased by 70% in the past 25 years. For all the advancements in our modern world a price is definitely being paid. Awareness is so important, and Place2Be is one charity that is doing great work to bring this awareness into schools. Encouraging children to openly talk about their feelings and encouraging others to listen. Hopefully a world of change will follow and an equilibrium will be sought and utilised.

It is a passion of mine to remind our children and to encourage our children to listen to their hearts. To feel their own beat and their rhythm they need to follow to build a happy and beautiful life of their very own. 

Juliana x

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