During Mental Health Week you will very probably see and hear a lot of statistics showing how serious a problem mental ill health has become.
We are all aware of the impact mental health plays in our lives and know that this is a problem for many. We understand that the statistics show that mental health issues are increasing and the negative impact it has on us and our community.
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 many of our playgroup families are already trying to do for themselves and their children. By going to playgroup, they are making social connections for themselves and their 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 our playgroup community to pause for a minute and think about what your playgroup means to you. 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 the families and children who participate at their local playgroup are at the frontline of positive mental health. It might seem like it’s just a bit fun or a lot of hard work (depending on the day and how involved they are) but the effort involved in making and keeping relationships are just as important for adults as learning to share and waiting 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, for those families who attend playgroup, as you read and hear about the increase of mental health issues take a moment and congratulate yourselves 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.
And for those who have yet to join playgroup, perhaps this week will be the encouragement you need to start the journey and get involved.
Find local playgroups running in your area here.