During Mental Health Week you will very probably see and hear a lot of statistics showing how increasingly serious a problem mental ill health has become.
There will be stories, newsfeeds and Facebook posts telling you how many people suffer from something at some stage such as when they are pregnant or after having children or after getting divorced or during adolescence or perhaps most frightening, how many children suffer.
A lot of the stories will say things are getting worse. It is highly likely you will know someone or experienced difficulties yourself at some stage or both.
This blog is not about all those statistics. it is about the most simple, age-old and human thing we can do about it.
It is something that since you are reading this you are already trying to do for yourself and your children. By going to playgroup, you are making social connections for yourself and your children whilst also being involved in a community activity. Social connections, peer support and community involvement are all powerful insulators against mental illness.
This Mental Health Week I encourage you just pause for a minute somewhere and think about what your playgroup means to you and your children. I encourage you to think about the people that make your playgroup run smoothly and what you bring to your playgroup.
I offer this encouragement because what you do with the families and children and your local playgroup is at the frontline of positive mental health for you and your children. It might seem like it’s just a bit fun or a lot of hard work (depending on the day and how much you are involved) but the effort involved in making and keeping relationships is just as important for adults as learning to share and wait their turn are critical learning stages for children.
Not only will playgroups help to keep you healthy but having a strong support network is key to managing if things do get difficult.
Just because it isn’t all planned or scripted or run by a professional does not make your playgroup any less important. In fact, it makes it more important. Navigating the bumps and bruises and struggles and joys of day to day interactions is what mental health is all about and playgroup is a safe microcosm of the world in which children will learn to thrive.
So as you read and hear about the growing plague of mental health issues take a moment and congratulate yourself for being involved in something that is helping keeping people well and helping when they are not and think about what your playgroup means to you. Think about people you know that could be in playgroup and remember it is the people around you that really make a difference.
For ideas on how your playgroup can be part of #mentalhealthweek click here.
Find local playgroups running in your area here.