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Children’s Mental Health Week: It starts with you

In Britain we are known for many things: scones, tea, fish & chips and our recent failure to ever win a Eurovision song contest… BUT, we are also famous for our dishonesty about how we feel. The scripted part of many peoples’ days: “How are you?” with almost everyone’s automatic reflex being “Fine”, leads the question to be utterly meaningless. “Fine”, which I believe is such a loaded word, is an umbrella term that goes from “I am great”, to “I have never felt worse”. So, are we able to stop that question from being as pointless as a lifeguard at an Olympic swimming event?

To me, mental health week is not about checking up with a friend or relative once a year, it goes beyond that. It’s about recognising the importance of our mental health just as much as our physical health – wouldn’t you go to the doctor if you broke your leg? I would hope so.

But what would you do if you felt anxious or depressed? You can’t wrap that up in a bandage or give your intangible emotion some paracetamol.

We are told the scripted ways of how you can feel better: go outside, eat healthy food, exercise, meditate, sleep well, delete social media, the list goes on. Now don’t get me wrong, this is all great, but taking the pragmatic approach, people will continue to be myopic creatures and will take short term benefits over long term costs. And ultimately, being lambasted with what you should do, whilst simultaneously feeling guilty that you don’t do these things isn’t going to be beneficial for either party. So what can you (realistically) do?

Providing awareness to the importance of mental health is crucial, as everyone will go through highs and lows in their life and it’s the ability to have access to resources to help you as an individual, which will help you to thrive in life. The beauty of humans is that we are all unique and individual, but that comes with a double edged sword.

Opening up discussions about our mental health and how we feel is crucial. It can start with a hug. A cup of tea. A chat. Whatever you feel is most comfortable for you. But whilst it is important for people to reach out to you, you must also have the bravery and courage to tell someone if you are feeling down. It starts with you.

Cara P, Year 12

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