The Family Wellness Project is an early intervention mental health project for children under 12 and their families. It has been awarded five years funding from the Big Lottery Fund under the Reaching Out Supporting Families programme.
You will find lots of helpful resources in this section of the website relating to mental health.
Family Wellness Blog
7th February 2017: Children’s Mental Health Week
We are pleased to support Children’s Mental Health Week (6-12 February).
Hosted by children’s mental health charity Place2Be, the theme this year is ‘spread a little kindness’.
Moving schools, struggling in class, bullying, trouble at home – children go through tough times just like the rest of us.
And while we cannot always change their circumstances, a small gesture – whether it’s lending a listening ear, offering a helping hand, or just telling someone how much you appreciate them – can make a big difference.
When children feel supported by peers and grown-ups, they are better able to deal with difficult transitions. Not only that, but scientists have proven that being kind to ourselves and others is good for our brains – and our relationships!
16th January 2017: Make Blue Monday Bright!
This Monday is commonly known as ‘Blue Monday’ – the most depressing day of the year. Every year we are bombarded by media telling everyone should be feeling down and depressed in January. So this year we’ve decided to counteract that together with partner organisations in England, Scotland and Wales by doing something different and putting a positive spin on the day.
We are renaming the day Bright Monday and we are asking everyone to get involved in one of three ways:
- Wear bright clothing on Bright Monday – anything from a colourful shirt or tie to brightly coloured socks!
- Dress up your workspace – print off our colourful bunting or decorate your area with some new plants, print out a quote, a joke, or a photo that makes you smile, or set up a small bowl of fresh fruit on your desk.
- Brighten up someone’s day – offer to make a hot drink for a colleague you haven’t spoken to recently, get some biscuits in for your team or if you have a meeting, or pay someone a compliment.
We hope everyone will get involved and use social media to show us what they are getting up to during the day using the #BrightMonday hashtag.
7th December 2016: Tips for How to Avoid Passing Anxiety on to your Children
There is evidence that children of anxious parents are more likely to exhibit anxiety themselves, a probable combination of genetic risk factors and mirrored behaviours. Seeing a parent feeling anxious can be more than momentarily upsetting for children. Children look to their parents for information on how to interpret ambiguous situations; and if they see their parents seem consistently anxious, the child will feel that a number of scenarios are unsafe.
It can be hurtful to think that, despite your best intentions, you find your anxiety is having an effect on your child. If you do find that this is the case it’s important not to feel really guilty about it but to seek support.
Whilst it is not inevitable that your anxiety will transmit to your child, if you struggle with anxiety it is a good idea to have strategies in place to help you avoid your child feeling anxious.
Learn stress management techniques
It can be very difficult to communicate a sense of calm to your child when you are trying to struggling to cope with your own anxiety. If you learn to tolerate stress you will in turn be teaching your child how to cope with situations of uncertainty or doubt, as they take their cues from your behaviour.
Try to remain a calm, neutral demeanour in front of your child whilst you are managing your own anxiety. Be aware of your facial expressions, the words you chose and the intensity of the emotion you express.
Explain your anxiety
You don’t want your child to witness every anxious moment you have, but you don’t want to suppress your emotions from them either. It is ok for your children to see you cope with stress sometimes as long as you explain why you reacted the way you did.
For example, maybe you are running late to get the children to school on time and you lose your temper. Later, when you are calm, maybe in the car on the journey you could explain by saying “Remember earlier I got frustrated and lost my temper? I was feeling worried because I thought you were going to be late for school and I managed that frustration was by shouting, but there are other ways of managing feeling stressed too. Maybe we can look at a better routine for leaving the house in the morning.”
Talking about anxiety gives children permission to feel the stress but also send the message that it is manageable.
Make a plan
Try to come up with a plan in advance for managing specific situations that trigger your anxiety and maybe even include your children in making the plan. For example, if you find yourself feeling anxious about getting your son ready for bed by a reasonable hour, talk to him about how you can work together to better handle this stress in the future. Maybe you can come up with a plan wherein he earns points toward a treat whenever he goes through his evening routine without protesting his bedtime.
These strategies should be used sparingly: You don’t want to put the responsibility on your child to manage your anxiety if it effects many aspects of your life. But seeing you implement a plan to curb specific anxious moments lets him know that stress can be tolerated and managed.
Know when to disengage
If you know that a situation causes you undue stress, you might want to plan ahead to absent yourself from that situation so your children will not interpret it as unsafe. Let’s say, for example, that school drop-offs fill you with separation anxiety. Eventually you want to be able to take your child to school, but if it’s something you struggle with and need support on managing, you can ask a co-parent, family member or friend to handle the drop off until you have strategies in place to help you manage that anxiety. You wouldn’t want to model very worried behaviour in front of your children at school as this may then cause them to feel anxious about school.
In general, if you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed with anxiety in the presence of your child, try to take a break. Take some time to yourself and engage in stress-relieving activities when you start to feel acutely anxious: take a walk, drink tea, or have a nice bath.
Find a support system
Trying to parent while struggling with your own mental health can be a challenge, but you don’t have to do it alone. Rely on the people in your life who will step in when you feel overwhelmed, or even just offer words of support. Those people can be counsellors or mental health professionals, co-parents, or friends.
10th October 2016: World Mental Health Day
World Mental Health Day takes place on the 10th October every year. According to the World Health Organisation if we don’t act urgently, depression will be the leading illness globally by 2030.
Statistically speaking, it is likely that you or one of your friends or family will be affected at some point. In fact, in Northern Ireland one in five people will struggle with mental health issues in their lifetime.
Many in Northern Ireland may be reluctant to take the step to talk to someone about their mental health. However, by choosing to to be open about mental health, we are all part of a movement that’s breaking down mental health stigma and discrimination.
We’re using the day to highlight “5 Ways to Wellbeing”, which have been identified through extensive reviews of research and expert opinion as simple actions that anyone can take that will have a positive impact on their day to day wellbeing.
1. Take Notice
Hit the pause button for a moment, breath and take notice of the things around you and take stock of what is important to you.
Asking someone ‘are you ok’ and taking the time to listen.
3. Get Active
Remember a thousand miles begins with the first step
4. Keep Learning
Take a look through the resources on our webpage or begin to refocus on your goals and look at ways to learn to achieve them.
Reach out and lend a helping hand in your family, among friends, in your school, community or workplace. Make up a buddy bag – containing a small gift to help someone smile.
Get involved this World Mental Health Day by trying to put some of the 5 Steps to Wellbeing in place in your daily routine. You can download some resources below which you can use today to talk highlight World Mental Health Day.
18th August 2016: Transition
It’s not long until schools starts back and for some children this will mean a big transition from primary to secondary school. This change will be met with excitement and anxiety; the anticipation of making new friends and learning new things will also be combined with uncertainty over what their new school will be like, stricter teachers, more homework and maybe not making friends. These are all normal things to feel before a big change.
Transition is about adapting to new circumstances. From infancy children are learning to adapt and discovering ways of forming and sustaining relationships with those around them that will help them deal with adversity and embrace challenge and change. This is central to children’s developing mental health and it’s also central to their engagement with school and their capacity for learning.
Most children will find ways to adapt, but some may find change much harder to cope with and struggle to benefit from the opportunities offered by secondary school. For children who may struggle to cope with the change this could see the emergence of underlying mental health problems, so it’s important your child is prepared and supported through transition.
For further support with transition click to download the Moving On From Primary School Booklet
29th June 2016: Two-Thirds of Parents Fear Child Mental Illness is a ‘Life Sentence’
The Guardian published an article yesterday detailing research which shows that two-thirds of parents fear their child would be facing a “life sentence” if they developed a mental health issue in childhood.
A survey of 2,061 adults, including 500 parents, found that 67% of parents believe their child may never recover from being diagnosed with mental illness. Parents worry about the affect it may have on their child’s future with many concerned that they may not get a job, find a partner or have a family as a result of a mental health condition.
This has raised further concern about pressures on the NHS and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services to deal with the growing number of children and young people experiencing mental health issues.
The Family Wellness Project exists to enhance the emotional health and wellbeing of children aged 5-12 who may be at risk of developing significant mental health difficulties with the view of reducing the need for them to be referred on to more intensive or long term support from services like CAMHS.
We know that mental health difficulties are preventable and that receiving support as early as possible is key. You can use our webpages to find resources relating to support for a number of difficulties your child may be experiencing and also around things like talking to your child about their emotional health and wellbeing.
You can find out more about the project by contacting us on 07773221967 or email Rachel.Cashel@mindwisenv.org.
13th June 2016: Men’s Health Week
Today marks the start of Men’s Health Week with 2016’s theme being ‘Men United – For Health and Wellbeing’.
Men’s Health Week aims to raise awareness of preventable health problems for males of all ages, support men and boys to engage in healthier lifestyles and encourage early detection and treatment of health difficulties in males.
We know that there are strong links between physical and mental health and that sometimes men can find it harder to open up about any issues they may be experiencing. Yet, one in eight men in the UK experience a mental health disorder and 78% of UK suicides are by men*. Men are more likely to be affected by work stress, relationship problems, job loss, financial worries and family responsibities.
This Men’s Health Week we want to encourage men and boys to talk about mental health. We hope that men and boys will use the week to reflect on their mental health and try something to help their emotional health and wellbeing during the week. You can use some of the resources we have online or try some of ReachOut’s tips for working on your mental fitness.
*Statistics from Men’s Health Forum.
16th May 2016: Mental Health Awareness Week
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and this year the theme is relationships. The theme was chosen to highlight how fundamental relationships are to our health and wellbeing.
We are far more likely to make a resolution to improve our physical health rather than our emotional health. We know that emotional health is just as important to our wellbeing as physical health, and good relationships are just as vital as other more established lifestyle factors like a good diet, exercise and giving up smoking.
The Mental Health Foundation, the organisation which coordinates the week are asking us to prioritise relationships this week.
The Family Wellness Project aims to enhance the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children aged 5-12 by working with the whole family, which includes improving relationships and communication in the home.
Keep an eye on our webpages and social media across the week to find out more about our project and to find resources as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.
Check out the video from the Mental Health Foundation on relationships and how good relationships have a positive impact on our mental health and wellbeing.
1st March 2016: Talking to Your Children About Mental Health
We wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone who got involved with Children’s Mental Health Week. Whether you liked or shared some posts on social media, or even used it as an opportunity to talk to your children about their feelings and emotions, that is fantastic!
An extra special thank you to all those who completed the Talking to your Children about Mental Health survey. Your responses have given us lots of ideas on how to move forward on resources for the project and we will share the developments of those with you soon.
Take a look at a summary of the findings from the survey:
8th February 2016: Children’s Mental Health Week
Children’s Mental Health Week kicks off today and the Family Wellness Project will be getting involved here on the website and on social media by providing lots of information and resources across the week.
The theme of Children’s Mental Health Week this year is ‘building resilience’ and teaching children to ‘bounce forward’ from life’s challenges. The Duchess of Cambridge is supporting and has launched the week with a special video message:
Children’s Mental Health Week campaign hopes to raise awareness of the benefits of getting children support at the earliest possible opportunity, and to encourage parents/carers to talk openly with children about their feelings and getting help. With that in mind, we want to know how you feel about talking to your child about mental health. Your answers will help inform what resources we will put together for parents/carers on the subject. Take the survey by clicking on the banner below.
18th January 2016: Blue Monday
Today is “Blue Monday”, supposedly the most depressing day of the year. There are a number of reasons that January 18th is a sad day: bad weather, post Christmas debt, work and pay day still seems distant. Research from Co-op has also said that January is a month that we are at our loneliest. It’s a grim combination, but the Family Wellness Project want to encourage you to Beat Blue Monday! Here are some tips to help chase the blues away.
1. Meet up with your mates
There is a strong link between your sense of wellbeing and your relationship with others. It’s good to make time and keep in touch with your friends or to try to meet new people and get to know them. Why not try to organise a catch up with some friends today, they could maybe do with some cheering up on Blue Monday too!
2. Give something back
Giving something back can often lift our mood. Something as simple as saying thank you, smiling, feeling grateful for even the little things and praising other people could make someone else’s day and that’s something to feel good about.
3. Set yourself a goal
It can be hard to feel motivated in late January, especially if you are still trying to stick to a New Year’s Resolution or may have broken it. But why not try and set yourself a new, realistic goal which will give you a new focus. It doesn’t have to be something big but be open to new ideas, use support and include others to enjoy new experiences. One of those experiences could be attending one of the project’s free wellbeing programmes.
4. Think positively
When we’re feeling down it’s easy to focus on the negatives but don’t lose hope and try to look on the bright side – don’t be too hard on yourself and think of the achievements you have made.
5. Treat Yourself
Take a little “me time” and treat yourself, book that holiday or hit the sales and treat yourself to something new to wear or read. Do things for you and that you enjoy.
6. Be Active
Have confidence to go out and seek out activities, information or experiences. The saying “a healthy body is a healthy mind” is true, exercise releases a rush of happy chemicals (known as endorphins) in your brain. You don’t need to do anything too extreme either, just a 10 minute brisk walk will do the trick!
Happy Monday everyone! Let’s #beatbluemonday.