We were asked by one of the schools that we work in to do a quick spot of filming for a brief chat with Dr Alex George on the importance of raising Mental Health awareness for young people. We weren’t told many details like who it was for and whether it would be live. So, we rocked up to work to be told it was going to be on the Lorraine show in an hour’s time. With me who tends to put her size 8 foot in things ALL the time and Munch who has a little tendency to draw attention to himself for all the wrong reasons whilst being in such situations, I was waiting for our usual calamities to begin. Bearing in mind that an interview had to be previous halted due to the laughter and search for clean air after Munch left out one of his noxious anal exhales whilst being interviewed a couple of years ago for our book, and when he showed his ‘physical excitement’ proudly in a Newspaper article, I wasn’t too hopeful that he would behave but I was totally surprised when he did. Despite Munch showing a less than enthusiastic approach to filming as he turned his back to the camera and slouched to the floor for a sulk after they made him wait far too long for filming, all went smoothly.
Dr Alex George is doing an amazing job at raising awareness of the impact of Mental Health on young people and what help is available after sadly losing his own brother to battles with Mental Health. Having worked in many areas of Mental Health over the last 26 years, I have seen many things change and many things that have stayed stationary in the field but luckily one thing to change is the attitude people have towards it. Stigma has been replaced by compassionate awareness and people feel more able to support their own version of their Mental Health stories that strike a chord with multiple others who would feel alone without this connection. Having worked so long in Mental Health services, it is very rare to find a unique case that does not have shared roots in so many other people’s stories but to that person, their relationship with their own Mental Health is unique. Validating their thoughts and feelings is crucial and means the difference between healing or fading away into a very lonely existence. When we were asked how important counselling services are by Dr George, I gave a brief answer that they are an essential safe space for young people but on reflection, they are so much more than that. Here are a few ways in which I think counselling services help to boost Mental Health in general..
A space like no other
We are not family; we are not friends. We are not prescriptive; we are not authoritative. We are this blank canvas space that people can come to throw all the messes, struggles and strains from the last week over.
A place to be yourself
When you come through the door, we don’t expect you to be anyone apart from yourself. We want you to get to know the parts of you that you hide to the rest of the world from fear of being judged. There is no wrong way to be in the counselling room if you are being yourself and telling us your real thoughts and feelings.
A place for growth
If you come in wanting change in your life, that is what you will get if you find a way that works for you. If you come in wanting a space to feel at peace with your current situation, then that is what we will work on. Your growth will be whatever you want it to be in a safe environment with your counsellor as your cheerleader.
A Place to be heard
Your opinions won’t be shot down or your feelings silenced, we will listen to the passion and hurt in your voice as you tell us the words that have never been voiced until now. We listen not because we must, but because we want to. We hear the breaks in your voice and when you skirt around subjects that you really want to feel confident enough to speak about. We hear you even when you aren’t speaking.
A place to discard fiction
We like real, we are not the biggest fans of a fictional reality of your world that you have been forced to believe in. We will help you discover your version of a happy life that suits you and makes you happy. We can help take away the ‘Should’ and ‘ Cannot’ and help you find your own ‘wants’ and ‘cans’.
A place to unlock levels
You may have a friendly challenge to help you get rid of faulty thinking if that is what you want but you should never have hostility. You will find parts of yourself that you never knew existed and these are the parts that hold all your answers to a better Mentally Healthy life.
A place where your new life begins
When you begin to bring your hidden truths to the surface, you are committing to a new way of life. Some sessions may feel more draining than a marathon , whilst others will give you a new lease of life, but all will change you in one way or another.
I am not saying that counselling is a miracle cure for all, and you must find the right counsellor that works for you, but I am saying it is always worth a try. Wales has led the way in the UK in counselling in all secondary schools and increasingly more in primary schools so watching the impact that this has on the lives of children and young people has been amazing. We are here to stay for all the young people that will need us for whatever reason.