Mental health in schools.

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Maybe this needs to be done from an earlier age.

Teachers you should not be afraid to talk about issues such as suicide, sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. If you are then why?

So how to help the children? How can you support them?

Why not try to bring a counsellor into the classroom to give a talk. See if you are able to run small groups for your vulnerable children or a drop in session.

Remember this is not just high schools and sixth form students who need to access support or know and understand mental health. It has been reported recently in the news that some children as young as 3-4 yr olds are struggling with issues of self harm, when this starts from an early age it may escalate if help is not given.

Our primary school children need support from professionals as well as sixth form. If we can help a child who is going through issues at 8yrs old, they may cope better by 16, if they are left they may have learnt unhelpful distructive coping mechanisms which are harder to break.

Teachers, teaching assistants, head of years and head of schools need to be making some allowances for children’s mental health. Teaching them these important lessons as you may be the person this child may turn to in their hour of need.

Click here for more information about Counsel me

My visit to meet Simon and Gloria at Claridges. Afternoon tea anyone?

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Wow, has it really been 5 years since that amazing day? The best tea party I could ever imagine being invited to (well apart from a ‘Mad Hatter’s’), I was sat eating cake and drinking tea with Brendan Cole at Claridges, just Wow. How surreal! I kept waiting for Alice to jump out of a hole! What an awesome feeling to be invited to meet Simon Cowell and Gloria Hunniford and their guests.

But I am forgetting the most important part, why I am there?

Let’s rewind a few months.

If you have read any of my other blogs you will know son no. 3 has a diagnosis of Autism, he was diagnosed at 6 yrs of age. Although we have always known from a very young age that something was just not quite right, this diagnosis still came as such a huge shock to us. I am sure many parents will probably agree.

Our path to diagnosis was rocky and took many years of battles, as people who are going through it will empathise, but throughout some if this we had some amazing support from an amazing charity called face2face. This charity was ran by scope. I had an amazing befriender who was a huge support, she was a listener, a friend, an ear and was there when nobody else was. Now I am not saying that nobody else was there, but at that time it felt like I was supermum and carried everyone, I had to because if I didn’t then everyone around me would collapse. William was born as a BBA, a bit of a traumatic experience which then led me onto PND which I coped with but didn’t really deal with when you have a child who never sleeps. She taught me that I could put my backpack down and learn to look after me. She was an amazing befriender.

Being a mum of a child living with a disability is hard work, nobody wanted to help, to listen, to be there when he screamed, punched, kicked or had a meltdown. Why would they I wouldn’t or would I.

So as the weeks went on and life got easier, I realised friendships were there as I released the grip on the backpack.

Then I was asked to make a film clip for the health lottery. Me? Talk about being a mum with a child living with Autism? Really? Wow.

So we did!

Me and my befriender talked about how she had helped me and I talked about living with son no.3.

What it’s like sleepless nights, a friendless boy, the struggles, the lack of invites to parties, the struggles of mainstream school, living with family who just don’t understand the issues of an invisible disability.

A child who doesn’t eat, doesn’t wear certain clothes, like loud noises, but loves the firmness of hugs and cuddles.

I remember reading a poem about going on a trip to Holland but thinking your going to Spain with your friends. You get off the plane and realise it’s not what you expect, it’s ok, its sunny, there are nice people, and you get on.

That is what Face2Face has taught me. I have met some wonderful people over the years. I am not where I started when he was born. That doesn’t matter life moves on. People can’t all be expected to cope with ‘my’ stuff.

He is an amazing boy making friends and going to parties. Life moves on and changes. Holland is good.

So now lets fast forward to the invite, we are both sat in a tea party at Claridges, there are television screens all around us. Dotted around are celebrities, I remember it just felt crazy. Then the film played. Finally we are asked to go on stage to a standing applause. Wow! hugs tears and emotions. Autism is noticed, Disability is noticed! My son has helped to make Autism heard.

World Autism Awareness Week.

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Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that happens all over the world, not just in your country. Autism affects how an individual communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them.

I see Autism every single day, this is not just because I am a counsellor offering my support.

This is because my child, son 3, has a diagnosis of Autism. He was diagnosed at 6 yrs of age.

So is that it for him now? Is that who he is now? Is that us as a family? Is that now the label forever?

Why?

Gosh, thinking back I remember buying and reading so many books when we were struggling. I would be that supermum who was prepared, who would get her son through the diagnosis and ensure him the help he needed but really my insides were like a washing machine on a fast cycle just Arrrrrrrrrrr. Constant thoughts of ‘Is this it forever????’

Thankfully we had amazing support and began our roller-coaster journey, which brought the lightbulb moment!

With this much needed help we learnt that Autism does not define who our son is, our son is who he wants to be!

After all, our number 2 son has asthma, but that is not who he is. So why should Autism be who our number 3 son is?

Ok so who knows what Autism is? How many of you would know the signs of Autism? Do you think you work with anybody diagnosed Autism, live with anybody with undiagnosed Autism?

Think about your work place?

Think about your friendship groups?

Maybe consider if you have children, yours or your children’s friends?

Now what is Autism for us?

I remember when we had son number 3, thinking there was something not quite right, he would never make eye contact, he did not sleep, this lasted until he was 6 years of age. He had huge sensory issues, loved lots of cuddles but then didn’t liked to be touched. As he was growing up he couldn’t cope with certain foods or clothes. Then there was the sensory issue with noise and light. His conversations were very much like a little old man rather than his age, very eccentric. He had a love/ obsessions and collections. This still continues, he can name every dinosaur, cat breed and Pokemon. Ask him a math question and he walks away (no he isn’t rain man)

Remember though, that if you meet one person with Autism you have met a person with Autism. My child still has a personality and he really has an amazing personality! Although he does miss the all important filter!!

Autism is not bad, it is not a disease. And no it is not catching. So yes children with a diagnosis of Autism can still be invited to play dates / to parties and sleep overs if they want. Adults still want friendships, want to go to work and want to be included in office parties even if they leave after an hour or only go when it’s paint balling or to a Spa day. It’s choice.

Autism needs awareness around the world, but not just for a week, because believe it or not, I will not be locking son no.3, in a closet after these 7 awareness days until the next Autism awareness week. 😉😉

He is extremely lucky, he attends an amazing Autism specific school, he is now achieving and has a supportive network around him. He has 2 supportive and loving older brothers. But soon, one day he will go out into the big wide world as an adult with autism. As a mum that is a scary thought when you think of what is out there.

Living with son no.3 has taught me so much. Autism is not to be scared of.

We need not judge a square peg in a round hole. We are all different in this world that we live in. Accept difference.

Find out more about counselling.

One of those days

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Picture this, I am walking down the stairs, no slippers on, rushing for work as usual last minute.com, with my arms full of dirty laundry, and as per something falls out on to the stairs. So it could have been a sock, a PJ top but no it was a soggy wet flannel! NICE!!! Yes you have guessed I stood on it with my nice stocking foot ‘squelch’. Hmm is this the start of my day or just one of those things you could be thinking. Well it depends how you look at life.
For me luckily I picked it up, realised I hadn’t fallen down the stairs, So it could have been worse. Things can be sorted if we decide to choose to take control. It was my choice to either scream and shout or laugh about it and I felt like doing both. However which takes more energy and which has the better outcome?
There are times I still do scream I won’t lie I am not a saintly counsellor.

I am real, I have feelings, emotions and I cry so how do I handle it? Because I am not a super hero, I don’t wear a cape and I don’t have a magic powers.

I think I can honestly say I handle it by talking! Since beginning my journey to becoming a counsellor I have had to learn to really talk and listen, not just a little chit chat with friends but be open. I have supervision and in that I am listened to and I can be me. I have realised that if I need somebody to talk to about my emotions I am happy pay a counsellor, but I have also learnt the value of talking openly to my family and friends!

Counselling has taught me so much about me. If you are struggling and need support don’t sit in silence thinking there is nobody to listen to you.

Don’t sit thinking nobody understands you, there is always somebody willing to listen, willing to help you. Sometimes you are stuck in a place and you just need a helping hand to get you up.

Why have therapy?

Looking out for our children.

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Children’s mental health awareness week.

I am a mum of 3 boys and I have had the pleasure and/or misfortune of going through varying systems and organisations with anxiety, autism, dyslexia and relating issues. As a family we have worked closely within the mainstream and autism specific school system, it has been a rollercoaster ride of Senco’s, Ed Psych’s, school nurses, varying out reach services and pediatricians.

Over the years my children have needed support to get used to changes and gain control. I think we have been extremely lucky with the support that we have had.

However as a counsellor who works with children, families and adults I hear how other individuals feel let down by the system.
That is why they seek out private counselling for themselves or their children.

The Governments recent Green Paper children’s mental health promise is certainly an admirable statement to empower schools to tackle these problems.

However is their approach to fulfilling this promise manageable or are parents left with feelings of doubt and worry. Children will recieve support in schools from a mental health team and support staff with a teacher who is in charge of their mental awareness. This will hopefully encourage a sufficiently skilled counsellor in schools across the UK. This will hopefully discourage schools who are at the moment utilising their T/As and mentors as counselling services and ensure that their children are recieving the right support.

I believe that we need more qualified level 4 and above counsellors, play therapists and educational psychologists working in our schools who are already trained and have the experience to help these children. Yes this may cost a little more than the teaching assistants or mentors who are being employed to do this job. But isn’t it worth it? My concern is what level of training will this mental health team have to work with the children and young people. Is this quick fix really the best way to tackle children’s mental health in the long term? Or is it an ill advised therapy likely to create more issues that need dealing with later?

So on Children’s mental health week we need to look at these policies and realise that any therapy is only as good as the therapist.