July 16, 2020

Children of all ages should be exposed more to what mental health professionals do. It is important for them to know that it is not at all abnormal for them to have to deal with a mental health issue and there are excellent professionals who can help.

There is still a lot of stigma in our society about mental illness. And that is what keeps many children quiet when they should be speaking out about the issues they are dealing with and receive appropriate treatment. I have experienced this myself when OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) started for me at the age of sixteen. I kept it all to myself for 5 years, thereby delaying appropriate treatment for 5 years.

Whenever I speak to school students (of various ages) about long term impact of bullying on mental health, I end up talking a lot about what I experienced and what I was dealing with. At the end of my presentations, many children would come up to me and describe their mental health issues to me – things that they had not shared with anyone else. Many would even send emails to me later describing their issues in detail. They do that because, after hearing my presentations, they feel certain that I would understand their issues since I had gone through this myself. That gives them the confidence that I would take their issues seriously and not downplay what they were experiencing.

In most cases I was able to connect them with their school mental health staff (such as school psychologists or social workers) and get them the help they needed. They finally understood that what was happening to them was not abnormal and can certainly be treated. This is why it is important to make sure that all children learn about mental health issues and mental health professionals.

© 2017 - Sumi Mukherjee
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