Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Nationwide Children’s Hospital #OnOurSleeves campaign, all opinions expressed here are mine.
Today, I was under a table trying not to hit my head. I was using a soft voice and trying to find the right words. I was searching for a story that might connect with the child who was beside me, rocking back and forth. I was whispering about a time I was also scared. The one where I also cried, and a friend saw me.
I offered to hold a hand, and the hand extended for mine with our fingers barely touching at first, and then he fully gave me his hand. I knew my story was helping. I knew I was reaching him like a metal ladder that was thrown out of a window of a house on fire. I was thankful to be holding that hand, the one that was shaking like a leaf in the gust of a fall wind.
It wasn’t the place I imagined I would be under a table when I became a teacher. I never imagined it would be me who rescued kids from a crisis that I didn’t see happen. I would be the one who has a list of kids that I check on daily, not because they need help in math or reading. I check on their mental health. I make sure they know I am here to talk to them.
I share my heart with them, my ups and downs, and I give them words when they need them and a hand to hold when they can’t find the words. I help them out of the darkness, and I do my best to make sure that talking about mental health isn’t something that is shameful.
The best thing you can do is be open about your struggles so that children know they aren’t alone.
Mental health is an invisible illness, and we all need to recognize the reality that children may appear to be thriving on the outside but facing a mental health struggle on the inside.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital created On Our Sleeves campaign to break stigmas, start important conversations and raise much-needed funds for behavioral health research and care.
Let’s do our part to end stigmas surrounding mental health. In one simple step, we can make a difference. Take the pledge to be an advocate for mental health and act on it. You can check-in with someone, have a conversation, or do a random act of kindness.
In some way, mental illness touches everyone. You may have a friend, family member, or child who is living with a mental illness. October 10 is World Mental Health Day, let’s show our support and take the pledge to be a Mental Health Advocate now to help them come out of the dark.