We first spoke with Dr Andrea Shortland, Founder of Pocket Family Psychologist, back in 2020 when we heard her thoughts on the power of rituals to evoke a sense of calm and security. Her comments about how the preparation and serving of a hot drink such as tea ‘symbolises warmth, comfort and care’ have really stuck in our minds and reinforced our ethos - a cup of tea for us is of course about healthful hydration but also, and just as importantly, about taking five and enjoying a moment of calm.
This week, 7-13 February 2022, is Place2Be’s Children’s Mental Health Week and we took the opportunity to touch base with Pocket Family again to understand why campaigns such as this are so important and why a global pandemic might make us realise we are, in fact, much more adaptable & resilient than we may have believed.
Guest blog by Ellie Harper, Pocket Family Psychologist
This week [7-13 February 2022] is Children’s Mental Health Week. The campaign this year is centred around ‘Growing together’.
We love this year’s theme because it acknowledges that when we come together, we can all become stronger and grow. In recent years, the value of teamwork has really come to light. From checking in on our elderly neighbours over the garden fence to delivering food parcels to the vulnerable, the pandemic has really made us rethink our individualistic way of life.
Our children have not been able to experience this connection in the same way. Homeschooling has stopped them catching up with friends at lunchtimes, after school activities or staying for tea at a friend’s house after school. Parents have been super-stressed and frightened leaving them less able to make their children feel safe and secure. The Coronavirus Pandemic has even taught our children to fear touch or getting physically close to other people! These things are devastating for child mental health.
We know that our children have been struggling and we hear you. So here we have a message to our children:
It wasn’t quite part of my plan To lock you inside for safe-keeping I understand it’s been really tough The fear of germs if you don’t wear a mask I never imagined your youth would have such little meaning It wasn’t quite part of my plan The homeschooling has made you grow up so fast Having to complete spellings alone with Mummy in a meeting I understand it’s been really tough Birthday parties and playdates, a thing of the past Grandma's hug a longed for feeling It wasn’t quite part of my plan I imagine there are things you’d like to ask ‘Why does school not realise the support that I’m needing?’ I understand it’s been really tough Keeping your family and friends safe has been a huge task But your love and humour has kept us all believing It wasn’t quite part of my plan But darling you have been more than enough
Perhaps the wise lesson of the pandemic is that we, and especially our children, are so much more adaptable and resilient than we first believed. Life will never be all sunshine and rainbows but as the old saying goes, we must learn to dance in the rain. So, how can we work together to help our young people to grow from their losses in the pandemic?
Start a conversation and discuss your experiences too. What was painful and what did you handle well? Remember to model self-compassion, empathy and a non-judgemental attitude.
Coronavirus was so painful for us all but together we can start to grow and rebuild.
Until next time,
Pocket Family Psychologist
Written by Ellie Harper
Pocket Family Psychologist is a group of clinical psychologists working to make expert psychological support more easily available to families through online programmes, consultations and free resources. They want parents to feel empowered to help their children rather than feeling they need to hand over to a therapist.
Their course, Taming the Lion, equips your child the skills they need to get in control of these big feelings in a six week child psychology programme. The course is structured into 30-40 minute self-paced online sessions enabling adults and children learn new techniques; regain a sense of control; reconnect and enjoy quality time together; and grow in confidence.