I’m excited to talk about something that’s close to my heart today, that more awareness needs to be brought to and share some of my personal experience and stories. Without going into too much detail, because well a lot of it is personal and private. But growing up and as a child, I for sure faced some hard challenges. My parents were divorced at a young age, the man who was supposed to be a Father to me, walked away at 9 years old and I haven’t seen him since. There was a lot of hurt, abuse, struggles and learning that happened through all of that. Things that honestly to this day, I’m still working through because well, it’s not things you can just get over in a days time.
But this is where the awareness comes in, where my personal experience has made me so passionate about something that I don’t think is talked about enough. And that is, children’s mental health. Even as adults, it’s not talked about a lot, but I do think it’s talked about more so than children’s. Most people assume children are resilient, they’ll forget, they’ll grow and move on, but the reality is, that’s not the case. Nationwide Children’s Hospital created the On Our Sleeves movement to raise awareness to this. Literally, one in five children are living with a mental illness and 50% of all lifetime mental illnesses start by age 14. They created this campaign to build a community of support for children living with these mental illnesses, through advocacy, education and fundraising for more research.
Like I said, childhood is where it all started for me. It’s where my anxiety was planted, it’s where eventually I felt like I was out of control and that would lead to an eating disorder and so on and so forth. It kills me to see any other child that has to go through any of this, especially being the wife and sister of two people are teachers. I see it firsthand playing a role in today’s society. Had my Mom not been aware and had the education and made room for the resources for therapy and treatment, I don’t know where I would be today because honestly, today I still have some of the same issues; anxiety to the point that there have been days I can’t even get out of bed. But I’ve been taught, I’ve been educated and I have a strong support system around me.
This is why when I was approached to discuss about this movement – I basically screamed YES from the rooftops. It’s something I’m so passionate about. The entire movement takes a classic saying “where your heart on your sleeve” and brings new life to it – just because we have our heart on our sleeves, doesn’t mean you can REALLY see what’s happening, what’s going on, especially behind a child’s eyes. We don’t wear our “thoughts” on our sleeves and that’s one of the most important things in being aware, especially in mental illness. So what can we do? We can support the campaign, we can educate ourselves on mental health in children. There are so many causes to mental health and it can be so confusing to everyone around us, especially as parents, so it’s important to learn education, to affirm that they’re not alone and to teach them at a young age that they can come to you.
I want Blake to know about my struggles, which some might ask why? Obviously within reason, but for the main point that – I did hard things, I do hard things and if I can work my way through mental health and ask for help, so can she if she needs it.
You can learn more about the movement on their website, here.