Mental health advocate and author of the beautifully honest and truly powerful book "After Suicide", Charlotte Underwood talks about the importance of introducing children to mental health earlier on.
I may be firmly in my adult years now, but it wasn’t that long ago that I was a child taking on the world to the best of my ability. Many things have changed, I have grown and developed into the woman I am today, yet one thing that has stayed, is my mental health.
You see, we all have mental health, it is in every one of us. The fact that we need a brain to be alive and to function, shows just how important looking after our mind is. So, while we are all encouraged to stay fit and healthy, it’s important to know that this includes our mental health.
I had a pretty difficult childhood, I still got to build sandcastles, bounce on my trampoline, play with my toys and fall in love with so many wonders of the world we live in, but I also endured a lot of trauma. While my story and my life is unique, the one thing that will certainly have helped me and that will help the children of today and tomorrow, is being able to understand and talk about mental health.
As a child, I was very emotional, I did cry a lot and I did have a habit of running away from stressful situations, which has had a direct impact on who I am today as an adult. Yet, I did not have anyone to talk to, I wasn’t taught about mental health, my feelings or the ways I can manage it.
I can’t change this part of my past, it was an entirely different era, despite being only a decade ago; we’ve made massive improvements in mental health since then, though we have a long way to go.
However, I can try to help and work towards a world so that my future children and the next generation, are given the opportunities and tools that I didn’t have.
The impact that unsupported and untreated mental health has on a child, can cause serious disorders and problems in adult issues, in my case, I am almost seen as too complicated to treat; which should not have been possible.
Allowing our children to understand that their thoughts and feelings are valid, that they are allowed to be sad and scared. Reminding them that they are still loved and just as important, regardless of how they feel; that having a bad day, feeling different, or struggling in school does not need to define them. Giving them the tools and information to deal with at an early age and the confidence to talk about their mental health, it will set them up for life.
Teaching #mentalhealth to the young people of today is creating a stronger future, where there are no barriers created from having bad mental health or the stigma attached to it.
You can get your digital copy of "After Suicide", Charlotte's deeply personal account of her father's suicide here. Also watch Charlotte talking to #SkyNews about some of the potential reasons young girls self harm below.