By Siobhan O’Neill White
The past few years have been tough on everyone but especially, children and teens. They have missed out on so much, from school trips, to discos, to spending time with their friends. Everything was topsy turvy and we are only now scratching the surface on how much their mental health has been affected. On 6th May the annual Darkness into Light walk will be taking place at locations across the country. The aim of the event is to raise awareness of mental health issues and to work to prevent suicide. This is a great opportunity to get involved in an event that champions talking about mental health and suicide prevention. Too many of us know people who have taken their own lives and the more we talk about mental health and use the mental health supports available, the better.
Discussing depression and dark thoughts can feel uncomfortable but the more we talk about it, the less taboo these topics become. We are doing the Darkness into Light walk with our children, to encourage them to ask questions and normalise talking about mental health. We try to instil the belief in our children that their mental health is just as important as their physical health. The example we use is that, if one of our children broke their leg, we would take them to the hospital to get it seen to. And if they are struggling emotionally, we will get them the support and help they need because looking after their mental health is just as important as treating physical injuries, like a broken leg. Most schools now have counsellors to support the children so if your child is struggling, don’t hesitate to let their school know so they can support them while in school. Getting counselling outside of school can take a while but your GP will be able to point you in the right direction. In the meantime, if you need help in how to support your child, you can call SOSAD, Aware or Jigsaw for help and advice. If you are unable to take part in Darkness into Light, you can donate. The Four Seasons Hotel in Carlingford are selling rubber ducks for €3.50 at reception with all proceeds go to SOSAD. If you are worried about your child, you can log onto mams.ie. This is a free online chat forum for Mams, to support each other.