My girls were three minutes late for school this morning. It was my fault entirely; I had them out late last night – at The Sugar Club, a nightclub in Dublin. Even though it was a school night, I made the decision to bring them because I thought the event was important enough for my duaghters to witness it first-hand. The event in question was the launch of See Change‘s Make A Ripple campaign.
Make A Ripple is the joint effort of 45 individual bodies concerned with mental health. The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness about mental health, mental ill-health and to remove the stigma associated with mental health difficulties. Two very brave women – Barbara Brennan and Caroline McGuigan – spoke about their own experiences with mental health problems and their brushes with suicide.
Mental health is as much a part of who people are as their physical health – in fact, the two are inextricably linked. I felt it was important for my children – aged 7 and 9 – to be at an event where mental health and difficulties with mental health were spoken about openly and without shame. At their ages, I wanted my children to be aware of that. I wanted them to know that if they ever had a difficulty that they could speak about it – and that by keeping it to themselves they would be making it worse.
We spoke about mental health on the drive home. My girls understood what Barbara and Caroline had meant when they spoke about their difficulties. They understood that it was important to talk about pain and difficulty – whether that pain was physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.
Coming away from the launch last night, I had a very strong feeling that mental health awareness needs to be taught in primary schools across Ireland. If we are going to remove the stigma associated with mental (ill)health and see a decrease in the number of suicides and attempted-suicides in this country, then we need to start with children as young as five and six. Those children are our future, we need to make sure theirs is a bright one.