Talk your way to better Mental Health

Posted 10 October 2023

Footprints Foster Care - Talk your way to better Mental Health

Happy World Mental Health Day! Yes, we know it doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily as Happy Christmas or Happy Pancake Day, but it’s still a big deal. Or at least it should be. In a post-lockdown era, we’re thankfully more aware of our mental health than ever, but equally the country is seeing a constant demand for related services. CAMHS are crammed and an NHS survey has estimated that the mental health of almost 40% of school children has declined.

So, what are we going to do? Here at Footprints we’re going to keep doing what we do best – advocating for the amazing children in our care and, well, talking. The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is ‘mental health is a universal human right’ and we SO agree. We stand with the aim of banishing harmful stigmas in communities, ensuring access to services for all and striving for the better living conditions which can do so much for positive mental health.

Whatever a child’s background, we want to help all those in the Footprints family to live in a world like this and to give them all the tools they need to promote their own positive mental health. That last part is where the talking comes in.

Let’s be honest, lots of us still aren’t that great at talking mental health – we grew up in different times. It’s ok though, because every day can be a learning day. If we’re not already on it, we need to get used to opening-up and encouraging the children in our care to do the same. It’s one of the best tools we can give them to put in their mental health toolkit.

Talking helps children to express their emotions and to feel valid and understood. This alone can go a long way in relieving anxiety and helping them cope, but it can also help you find out where they are at and get them any support they need. It sets them up too with a great ability to understand their own feelings, learn how to deal with them in a healthy way and spot if perhaps there are changes that might need addressing.

Foster children in particular may be reluctant to open-up initially, but the more you make it a routine, the more natural it will become for them. If you need any more encouragement, here are some of our top tips to get talking...

  1. Get active. Build Lego together, play Xbox, draw or eat a snack. Doing something else while you talk will make it feel less intimidating and give fingers something to fiddle with.
  2. Start smart. YoungMinds has a great set of conversation starters to help you get the ball rolling.
  3. Listen well. Remember that whatever a child discloses to you is something they are trusting you with – big or small. Show them you validate their feelings and opinions, let them speak and take note of what you hear.
  4. Accept silence. If a child is reluctant to talk, that’s fine. Keep checking-in with them and let them know you are willing to listen and help them whenever they need.

This World Mental Health Day, let’s all do our bit to help mental health truly become a human right, starting with those closest to us. Fire up that Xbox and get talking! Oh and if in turn you’d like to talk to us, please get in touch – we love a good catch-up too!

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Footprints Foster Care Ltd
Registered Company No 07879639

Longham Business Park
168 Ringwood Road
Dorset BH22 9BU

T: 01202 573408
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