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When in doubt. Reach out!

Mental health issues have been on the rise ever since the coronavirus pandemic set in, early 2020. Both parents and children are witnessing stress, anxiety, anxiousness, lack of motivation to even do daily basic chores like eating, grooming etc. The stress, fear, grief, isolation and uncertainty created by the pandemic has worn everyone down, but many children have had an especially tough time coping up emotionally

Adults and children are struggling with anything and everything right now. This is the time for us to reach out for help, be it emotional support, OR a temporary time out or diversion, and the last resort: medical help. However, reaching out for help doesn’t sound as simple as it looks. And the reason behind this complication is – WE. OURSELVES. We stand in our way without realizing it.

As adults,

  • We feel that we are already mature enough to handle our situation and our children are looking up to us, we thus believe that reaching out to others may look like a sign of weakness. But the truth is reaching out for mental and emotional support is a sign of strength and not weakness.
  • The tendency is, to be a “self-proclaimed hero” by handling things all alone. We must accept that we are after all “imperfectly perfect” human beings and it’s ok if we can’t do one or the other thing.
  • Confusing mental health issues with short term frustration making us feel; it’s just the phase. However, it’s much more than just a phase, it can be a life-altering situation
  • Not having enough people around to reach out to. Trust issues also add to it.
  • And finally, when we decide to reach out for support, our ego/insecurity sets in and we try to “choose” whom to ask help from to avoid getting judged.
  • The wrong notion that seeking professional help for mental wellbeing is a sheer waste of money. Neither they believe in therapy or counselling
  • The problem of “first time” as they haven’t done it in the past, hence not sure how will reaching out to people or experts help ease their mental issue

As children,

  •  Since mental health is still considered a taboo, most parents fail to educate their children around it. These young children never learn to talk about their mental health issues.
  • Children are not expressive when it comes to talking about their fear or anxiety, they act out instead.
  • Not having enough people around to talk to especially, Children in a nuclear setup where both parents are busy working or single child, or absence of one of the parents.
  • At this age, children are more susceptible to feeling as though they are somehow to blame for our depression, particularly if we are not open to sharing what is going on with us.
  • Thanks to exposure, children are beginning to understand more about the world, and may feel afraid to share with us how they are feeling for fear that they will “get in trouble.” For this reason, it’s important to have an open mind, be an active listener, and reduce any stigma about talking about feelings and mental health. 

We at Vega Schools, one of the top 5 schools in Gurugram, focus on attending to the emotional wellbeing and support of our learners, their parents and our learning leaders.

THUS, REACHING OUT FOR HELP IS THE FIRST STEP TOWARDS ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND ACCEPTANCE OF A MENTAL HEALTH ISSUE.

REACHING OUT TO PARENTS: This should be the first thing every child must be educated and encouraged to do, irrespective of their age. Most children will manage well with the support of parents and other family members.. Having open discussion, using accurate terms to describe mental health and thanking them for sharing will help our child feel reduced stigma or shame if they ever feel depressed themselves.   

REACHING OUT TO SCHOOL: Since children spend 7-9 hours in school with their teachers, parents can reach out to them for emotional and mental support. Vega schools, one of the best schools in Gurgaon, has done a detailed blog on “Role of School counsellors in children/s mental health” dated 31st August 2020. Please click on this link to read more

REACHING OUT TO PAEDIATRICIAN: Staying in touch with paediatricians is more important than ever during the pandemic as they can screen for depression and ask about other concerns like anxiety or trouble coping with stress. They are in a better position to suggest the right Therapist or Counsellor as well.

REACHING OUT TO SUPPORT GROUPS

Social media is a boon in today’s time as we can create and/or join Support groups for a different category. As parents, we can interact with other parents whose children are going through similar mental health issues, suggest therapist etc. and simply speak our heart out.

REACHING OUT TO THERAPIST- This is by far the most important and immediate action adults must take if depression in their children is strong or lasts longer. We shouldn’t shy away from.

So, the bottom line is, as parents we need to talk about depression, with our children, in an age-appropriate manner and teach them that it’s okay to talk about emotions and to ask for help when needed. 

As more people get Covid-19 vaccines, there is a growing hope that the pressures of the pandemic will ease. But the struggles and losses of the past year will likely continue to affect families for some time to come.

The most important thing to remember is that what our child needs is for us to treat them with respect and compassion. While children are resilient, a child who is dealing with a depressed parent or dealing with depression themselves will need extra support and attention. If we are not able to provide that ourselves, then it will need to come in the support from others such as family, friends, or professionals. 

Our Learning leaders at Vega Schools, one of the top 10 CBSE schools in Gurgaon, continue to check in with their learners, often,  and watch and listen for signs they are struggling with.

Please get in touch with us and our counsellors for further details.