I was horrified the other day when I inadvertently let slip to my 11 year old son I was having counselling.
Dashing out of the school gates one afternoon. "Come on," I said. "I'm going to be late for my counselling session."
"What's counselling?" he said.
For the past few months I have been sneaking off on a Wednesday to 'go to the supermarket' or 'nip to the doctors' I'd never told him where I was really going.
I didn't want him to think I was weak, failing as an adult or a bad mother for not coping.
So cue conversation about counselling.
"Mum sometimes worries about things too much and it makes me a bit poorly. It started when your Grandma died long before you were born. "I speak to someone and he helps me sort it out in my head and that makes me feel better."
A simplified explanation that satisfied him and he quickly returned to discussing more important issues in his life - Star Wars and Lego.
In hindsight I should have had this conversation long ago. I should have made mental health issues something freely discussed within our family unit without judgement.
The fact is discussing mental health issues with children is much easier than with adults. It does need simplifying but they do not get embarrassed and do not judge – they just accept.
I plan to keep this conversation going as he approaches his pre-teens. I hope by sharing some of my experiences he won't feel uncomfortable or embarrassed if he has a mental health issue and he will have the confidence to seek help.
There is lots in the media about the importance of discussing mental health issues. Surely it's crucial these conversations also take place with the children in our lives so if they hit difficult times, as children or as adults, it becomes as easy to talk about as... Star Wars or Lego.
A Moodscope member.
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