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1 in 5 – See Them. Support Them.

My thumbs mindlessly scrolled across my phone screen. I lifted my head to stretch the kinks and stress out of my neck. It had been only ten minutes of sitting alone in the brightly lit waiting room, surrounded by all the inspirational posters that I’ve practically memorized and underneath those were the emergency phone numbers that are already filed at home.  It always feels like an eternity when I’m there.

I was startled when a barefooted child had blasted through the heavy wooden door. He had the most thickest and gorgeous brown hair that rested just above his ears. He spotted the bookcase that was right in front of me and marched straight for it. His mom came in shortly after and landed heavily in a seat next to me. She clutched that very familiar chart that I filled out months ago and rubbed her forehead, took a deep breath in, and then sighed loudly.

I wanted to tell her that she was doing the right thing.

That she was a good mom and that this is right where they needed to be.

That I know things suck but people keep telling me that it will get better.

That she wasn’t alone.

That her boy isn’t alone.

But instead I retreated back to my phone, mindlessly scrolling…waiting…eternity…

The next time you go out to a crowded place, I’d like you to do something.

I’d like you to take a look around.

1 in 5 of those people you’re looking at will experience a form of mental illness at some point in their lives.

OR

1 in 5 of them is experiencing it right at the very moment.

Like me.

I have bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder.

And mental illness is not just exclusive to adults.

Yes, mental illness can start in childhood.

It happens to children.

1 in 5 kids are bravely battling a mental illness and in the province where I live that’s nearly 500,000 youth.

Children can have anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, ADHD, eating disorders, etc….

This week was Children’s Mental Health Week.

My son’s school did absolutely nothing to acknowledge it. When I questioned my son’s school why – since they do things  like jersey days for cancer and “crazy blue hair days” for autism, they simply said that they would love to do something and that they try to rotate causes and that they would consider it next year.

For the record, since 2012, it has always been cancer and autism.

Now, I like his teacher and I was going to leave it at that.

But nah.

These kids.

These kids are walking into her damn classroom every day.

I woke up the next day with my pen in hand and went to writing. I  reiterated the fact that 1 in 5 kids is struggling with a mental illness and is probably walking their halls and that all it would take is one day of all 600+ of them wearing green to show them that they are supported.

It would spark conversations – because I know that when my son has to wear all blue or a jersey or funky socks, he’s asking all about the illness at home.

Hell, it could help save a student who is suffering in silence – it could help give them the strength to finally reach out.

My God, give these children one damn day.

I realized after I had sent my son to school with the note that I was preaching to the wrong choir but I don’t care.

I don’t care.

I don’t care.

I don’t care. 

Maybe she read it and she was bitching about me in the staff room all damn day and angrily crossed off the days on her countdown to summer or maybe she said, you know what, she’s right and talked to the principal about it.

Whatever I don’t care.

Next year, I’ll bring it up with the Principal himself.

I am not the mom that is going to stay silent.

These illnesses may be invisible but these children are not.

See them.

Support them.

And if your school stayed silent this week too, shame on you for denying them this week that was made for them, for continuing to push them aside just like the rest of society.

Shame. On. You.

 

I’ve added these powerful videos that were made by a Ontario youth for a contest to change the view on mental illness. Please take the time to watch them. Or come back to watch. They are amazing.

18 Comments

  1. Invisible illnesses are too easily ignored. Mental health is an incredibly important issue we as a society are ignoring, and that needs to change. Schools need to talk about this!

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      Absolutely – especially in the schools. Kids go through so much growing up that it would help to talk about emotions and how to cope with them.

  2. Until you mentioned it this week I had no idea there was a week for kids mental health awareness.

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      I think it might just be in Canada? I don’t know….

  3. It’s a shame that only certain causes get brought to everyone’s attention. The “invisible” ones always seem to get the short end of the stick. Good for you for trying to make a difference!!!

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      Thank you Susi. I got really fired up. I bet that teacher is counting down the days till summer now. She’s actually a really good teacher and I feel kind of bad that I unleashed myself but it was in a professional way. I promise.

  4. Wonderful post. There is so much stigma and misunderstanding when it comes to mental illness. It should be acknowledged more – especially in school so that kids can develop understanding and empathy, or acknowledge their own feelings without feeling bad about themselves.

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      YES! Exactly that!!

  5. Good for you for standing up for this to your son’s school. Like you said, maybe it didn’t do anything, but maybe she talked to the principal about it, and if she did that’s an amazing thing! It’s past time to end the silence and the stigma that surrounds mental health.

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      I really hope that she did. We are supposed to be getting a new principal next year so maybe they can start the initiative.

  6. this: “These illnesses may be invisible but these children are not.” Exactly, and yet the school chose to keep it that way. i understand there are so many causes but I agree with you that this one doesn’t get enough attention. Good for you for writing that letter, Kim. You are a true advocate. Thanks for sharing this message and the videos were very effective and moving.

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      There really are so many causes but mental health has a massive umbrella that covers so many illnesses and issues like self esteem, self care, bullying, etc. Even if they did just one day of wearing green to spark conversations. There is supposed to be a new principal next year so maybe they will take on this initiative. That would be wonderful.

  7. This is such an important day for schools to celebrate and help raise awareness for. Is there a school psychologist or counsellor that you could ask to help rally the cause for next year?

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      Not in our school board. They got rid of them in the Catholic board but they do have them in the public system. We were ready to pull our son out of the Catholic board because his teacher had bullied him last year and the school did nothing to protect him. But my son has a solid support system with his friends. It is a really hard decision to keep him there. I’ll bring it up next year. Apparently there is a new principal next year.

  8. Kim Kim

    I had no idea. And you are right both of my boys schools did nothing either. My oldest asked me why the dont do anything for donate life month either. I told him that he might be one of the few kids I his school that know about organ transplants. Next year I am going to ask for sure. 1 in 5!!!! My son has Tourette Syndrome and Anxiety. He talks openly about it but says his friends dont get it. So sad. I hope they bring light to it soon!

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      It’s such a shame that the schools do nothing for it. All they need to do is designate one darn day – wear green for mental health or something. But they don’t. It could spark so many conversations.
      Kudos to your son for speaking openly about his illness. That is so wonderful! I don’t think anyone could fully understand what someone is experiencing unless they experience it themselves. But he is trying and that is absolutely phenomenal. I know that my son has tried to reach out to his trusted friends but he knows that they won’t understand. They’re only 8 years old.

  9. Thanks so much for sharing this, my sweet. I love you for raising your voice and mentioning something to the admins at your son’s school. I always think about what I would have done if these big issues that I have a hard time dealing with in my almost 40s had happened during childhood.

    I’m not sure I could ever have handled that, truthfully.

    Every day is a battle, like the girl says in that video, and removing the stigma of mental illness ESPECIALLY with kiddos is SO unbelievably important. THEY NEED TO KNOW THEY ARE NOT ALONE. Thank you for sharing this <3 And for being a wonderful advocate for the mental health community. Love you so much for it.

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      THanks Charlotte.
      My son’s school hates the every loving life out of me. I am sure of it. The principal is moving to a new school next year and I’m sure he’s all “Adios crazy lady” LOL.
      Someone has to stand up. It’s not fair.
      xoooxox

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