I’ve been catching up on the first episode of Channel 4’s ‘Losing It: Our Mental Health Emergency’ and it got me thinking about my relationship with my daughter and the attitudes to mental health I want her to have. Read on for my synopsis of the show, reaction and thoughts on the current childhood Mental Health epidemic facing the UK.
There is a new series on Channel 4 at the moment called ‘Losing It: Our Mental Health Emergency’. The first episode was on Tuesday evening and was an emotional watch. I think it’s important to say upfront that some viewers may find the content upsetting and perhaps even triggering so you may want to avoid it if you’re not feeling 100% at the moment.
Nottinghamshire Healthcare is one of the UK’s largest mental health trusts and it has opened its doors to the cameras. The first episode follows two patients. An 11 year old girl, Briena, presenting with symptoms of crippling anxiety resulting in full body seizures and suicidal thoughts and a new Mother, Laura, who is temporarily sectioned with the sudden onset of Psychosis.
What I think the show did well in the first episode was really get to the heart of the difficult decisions mental healthcare professionals and patients’ loved ones have to make everyday.
Briena’s story really touched me the most and resonated. Her parents just felt that they couldn’t keep her safe any longer. They were exhausted and with nowhere left to turn they had taken her to A and E one evening. I cannot imagine how hard that decision must have been for them. It was apparent that her parents were really open to supporting her whole heartedly and showed incredible compassion and patience with her. They are an example to us all.
However, Briena’s Mother was carrying huge fears that perhaps her Daughter’s anxiety was somehow a learned behaviour as she herself had suffered from PND, after having Briena’s older siblings.
It turns out that all was not as it first appeared; Briena was actually diagnosed with being on the Autistic Spectrum and was struggling so much due to a feeling of not fitting in. Nevertheless, Briena’s Mother’s initial concerns rang true with me.
Having struggled with Low Mood and Anxiety for years, before having Miss EEE, I grappled with the idea of perhaps postponing children until I was feeling mentally ‘well’. In the end I came to the decision that I wouldn’t wait because, actually, my symptoms may stay with me for life and be something I need to learn to live with/ pro-actively manage and I wasn’t prepared to give up on having a family all together.
A fear of somehow ‘passing on’ my symptoms to my family, either through my genes or through learned behaviour is something I am still battling. That said, I do believe I can use my PTSD, Anxiety and Depression to teach Miss EEE to be tolerant of and kind to all her fellow humans. I hope that by showing my daughter it’s ok to talk about Mental Health, I will teach her not to be fearful of these conversations and to seek help from us if she ever needs it.
The TV Programme has reignited my passion for the importance of young people’s mental health and with Children’s Mental Health Week just around the corner I have decided to spread the word on Social Media and support this great cause. I hope all my readers do too!
This year’s theme is ‘Find your Brave’ and aims to promote the idea that, “Bravery isn’t about coping alone or hiding things in. It’s about finding positive ways to deal with things that might be difficult, overcoming physical and mental challenges and looking after yourself.” (I actually think this is a great message for society as a whole and not just young people!).
As she grows older, I definitely plan to share examples with Miss EEE of times when I had to ‘find my brave’ to deal with my own mental health issues and, although I didn’t feel very brave at all, I had to speak out in order to seek help. I also want her to understand that it is completely normal to not feel brave all of the time. I am working on trying to not always hide my emotions from her. If I get tearful when I am feeling anxious or low my ‘go to’ reaction is to leave the room and shelter Miss EEE from her Mummy’s true emotions. I think it’s because I want to protect her. But, what I am trying to do more of, as I grow my confidence, is to not run away and instead explain to her, in language she will understand, what is going on with Mummy. It makes sense that it could be tricky for a child to understand their own difficult emotions when they arise if they’ve been sheltered from ever being exposed to them in someone they love. I will always be here to hold her hand and help her ‘Find Her Brave’ – ALWAYS!
One in Eight children and young people have a diagnosable mental health problem, and many continue to have these problems into adulthood. Rates of Anxiety and Depression in teenagers have increased by 70% in the past 25 years. It is no secret how stretched our NHS is today, particularly with regards to Mental Healthcare provision. This is why it is more important than ever to promote the work of charities like Place2Be with their initiatives like Children’s Mental Health Week. They have loads of resources for Schools, Parents and spreading the word on Social Media.
As parents, we have to step up and pro-actively talk about emotions, mental health and compassion for a diverse society that embraces all, including those who struggle with their mental health. I truly believe that prevention is better than cure and the more children we can open up to the idea that ‘mental health’ is actually just ‘health’ the better.
Children’s Mental Health Week 2020 is from the 3rd to the 9th February 2020. You can find more information here.
The second episode is aired on Tuesday 28th January 2020 at 10pm on Channel 4. I would love to hear your views.