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Childrens Mental Health Week: Starting the conversation about mental health

For Children Mental Health Week (Feb 6-Feb 12), Workplace Wellbeing Trainer Becky shared her thoughts.

As part of Children Mental Health Week, Solent Mind Workplace Wellbeing Trainer Becky shares her thoughts on talking about feelings with her children...

This week marks Place2Be's Children's Mental Health week and it got me thinking about the way I speak to my own daughters about mental health and wellbeing. The theme for the week this year is 'Let's Connect' and of course we know from the five ways to wellbeing that connection with others can be so vital when we're looking after our own mental health. 

I'm someone who has lived experience of mental health difficulties and so I felt very strongly that when I had my children I wanted to really show them that we both can and should speak up about what we're feeling and make those connections between us where we all feel safe to just be who we are; whatever that looks and feels like. I think we should be doing this all the time and not just when we run up against a roadblock or issue. 

It's only relatively recently that I've worked out how to talk about (all of) my feelings and begun to fully appreciate the importance of doing so; not just when I need a boost but really normalising those conversations all the time and I want this to be effortless for my girls. One thing that I'm really passionate about is that my daughters understand that ALL their feelings are valid, and they are both allowed and encouraged to express them, whether they're big, messy, incoherent, frightening, joyful or anything else. 

We all get angry, we all get sad and I believe we need to feel safe talking about and expressing those potentially more uncomfortable feelings too, rather than trying to subdue them, deny them or hide them away until they become too overwhelming to ignore. One thing we make sure of at home is that nobody feels like they have to do the big feelings alone. If we're angry, sad, frustrated, confused, scared; rather than trying to hide that or overcome it alone by having time out, my girls will speak up, speak out and express themselves without fear - and I do too.

We talk about love all the time, and how the love between us doesn't ever go away regardless of disagreements, behaviour or any other factors, but we also talk about expressing feelings appropriately. 

We are absolutely a work in progress (me most of all!) and I'm not for one minute trying to describe a perfectly peaceful household where everyone is fully in sync and respectful and gets on all the time but what I want to ensure is that my girls can always speak up about whatever they are feeling, they know they will always be heard and they know they will always be loved.

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