Mental health is an important issue to discuss at any age, even in elementary school.
“A lot of the information we know now” explains Quadra Elementary School vice principal Cheryl Rolston “says that if we find problems that are existing children that are young, and treat them, then they won’t exist when people are adults, so we know at this age, it’s a really important age to start.”
And that’s why Rolston, along with Quadra parent Lesley Valour, are spearheading a mental health information night, at Victoria’s Quadra Elementary School.
“All the speakers come from Child and Youth Mental Health Victoria” says Rolston, “and they’ll be speaking about the most common things that occur with children at this age, so anxiety difficulties, attention difficulties, conduct difficulties, and a little bit where we start to see some mood problems occurring.”
Lesley Valour says that “mental health awareness is really important, and I’d like to help reduce the stigma around it.”
Valour and her son were in two car accidents – neither of them her fault – in a six month period.
“My son ended up pulling out half of his hair in two weeks, due to the trauma of it.
“He started having panic attacks in the car, not able to cope with me sort of normally driving, and when the panic attacks occured, I’d have to pull over instantly, and hold him.”
It took a year of therapy, but Valour’s son, who just turned nine, is now fine.
And Valour says that “had I had more information, and been more aware, I would have gotten him help sooner.”
That’s why she’s helping organize the evening.
“Often people don’t think that mental health issues arise in kids so young” says Valour, “but this is where the first signs start to show, and so I think it’s really important to identify the problems, and to get help as soon as possible.”
“Parents are really the best advocates for their children” Rolston points out. “We need them to know the information about mental health issues, and know that it’s ok to seek help – even just to ask questions.
“We’d love for it to be as normal to go for help for a mental health problem as it is to go for a physical health problem, and for nobody to be scared of that.”
Mental Health Evening Extravaganza is Thursday March 9.