Mental Health Awareness Week

It’s curious that we need a Mental Health Awareness week when statistically one in four of us are suffering with some form of mental health issue. However, we do need this reminder because mental health is a silent, invisible illness that inflicts incredible pain on those suffering from it, particularly children.

We had a child self-harmer a couple of weeks ago, a primary school aged boy who was using Lego to maim himself. Life had dealt some harsh blows to Jack* and although he had never heard of self-harm, his mental anguish was such that he found no other way of expressing the pain he was in.

It will take some time for us to work with Jack through his pain, but I am glad that, because we are there for him, he is more likely to transition into adolescent adulthood with resilience.

So many adults facing severe mental health issues today could have been avoided had they received appropriate care earlier in their lives.

Let us be the prevention…

As Mental Health Awareness Week leaves us for another year we can reflect on the positive changes in attitudes towards mental health, in the media, and in our communities. As an official supporter of the national Heads Together campaign, fronted by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, Fegans well and truly supports the opening of a conversation that has the power to prevent, as well as to cure.

Fegans’ Head of Counselling, Mary Fowlie, says: “I think we are seeing a radical shift in society’s thinking about mental health issues generally, and children’s mental health specifically, with the intervention and initiatives of Prince William and Prince Harry, so just getting people talking about mental health issues is a great way of breaking down taboos and prejudices.”

A statistic given much publicity this week is that 75% of mental illness in adult life starts before the age of 18.**  This shocking figure highlights the incredibly urgent need for us, as a society, to focus on children’s mental health as a priority. Parental mental health and support networks are also being recognised as vitally important areas for investment, as it is also estimated that a third, to two thirds of children with parents who have mental health issues are experiencing difficulties themselves.**

Fegans’ Head of Counselling, Mary Fowlie, says: “If parents can invest time in being with their children and listening to them, issues can be addressed at an early stage before they become too damaging and entrenched. Children need to know that their parents love them, and will care for them and help them even when things are tough. And the parents need to know that they don’t have to do it alone, and if they feel that they don’t know how to help their children, that’s where we come in with parenting support and counselling.”

Ian Soars, Fegans’ CEO

*name changed for client confidentiality

**Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer 2012

For more information on our counselling services at Fegans please click here.