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Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 - Family Breakdowns

Monday 10th May 2021 marked the start of Mental Health Awareness Week, looking after our mental health should always be a priority, but this year, having experienced a pandemic which, for most of us, has invited significant changes and increased stresses, it feels even more important to look after ourselves.

In my therapeutic work I am seeing a huge increase in the number of clients, both adults and young people, presenting with anxiety and stress. Long periods of social isolation seem to have exacerbated the problem for some, giving them too much ‘thinking time’ where there is opportunity to ruminate over seemingly minor difficulties allowing them to grow to catastrophic proportions, feel unmanageable and scary. When feeling like this rather than seeking support, some sufferers will withdraw even more and experience really negative thoughts. If you are feeling concerned about a family member, friend or colleague please do try and check in with them and try not to be put off by any resistance to talk. Your willingness to just listen with no judgement, can be a really powerful tool in their recovery. There are a variety of helplines available that people with poor mental health can use if they are struggling, so please don’t be shy of encouraging them to contact one of these if necessary.  

In many families grandparents, aunts, uncles and various extended family members are heavily relied upon to offer support and occasional or regular care for children, in some cases the restrictions of lockdown haven’t allowed this to happen, leaving parents under pressure to meet the demands of work, childcare and home schooling.

 At these times of increased stress, it can be very easy for parents to neglect their own mental health and begin to feel overwhelmed by their circumstances, not least of all single parents and those who are struggling to recover from a relationship breakdown. Some may have escaped an abusive partner and will have experienced a sense of relief, but the effects of abuse are far reaching and it takes time and determination to recuperate and it is vital that some time is spent prioritising needs and emotional wellbeing.

Soon we are to be allowed to give those we love a hug – in moderation, of course! I would recommend you find ways to give a ‘hug’ to yourself, recognise when you are feeling low or vulnerable, stop whatever task you are trying to complete and take a couple of minutes of respite. Just sitting down for a few minutes maybe with a hot or cold drink might help, it maybe getting outside in the garden or the park or saying hello to a friend or neighbour that will raise your mood a little. If you can find small, achievable ways to fend off anxiety, stress or low mood your quality of life should improve and your mental health be more robust.

To those experiencing relationship and family breakdown, Brethertons can offer both legal and emotional support. To chat with a member of the team please call on 01788 579579.