Helen Bashford, author of Perry Panda, has experience working in the mental health field, most recently as Carers Lead for a Mental Health Trust, providing support for families. In this article, Helen discusses the need to talk to children about mental health, and the benefits of drip feeding them information.
We have all heard it by now, that 1 in 4 people will experience mental illness at some point in their life. This statistic means that every child – every single one – will know someone experiencing mental ill health, if not now then in the future. There’s also a 25% chance they will become ill themselves. In families where a parent or sibling is ill, children have to live with the disruption mental illness can cause, and childhood is rife with issues such as bullying that can leave children vulnerable. Research now shows that half of all mental health problems are established by the age of 14, and 75% by the age of 24 (Mental Health Foundation). So, when we think about how to prevent mental illness we probably need to think about childhood.