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Mental Health Awareness Week: A message from our CEO

13 May 2021

Even for those of us who are resilient and able to cope with life’s challenges, the past year has been an incredibly difficult time. As humans we function best in a predictable world surrounded by a trustworthy and reliable network of support. The pandemic has shaken that sense of safety and certainty about the world and our part in it.

For the young people we work with at Break the pandemic has proven to them that life is unpredictable and scary, that no one is trustworthy and that there is no safety in their lives to get comfort from. We have had to try harder to reach our young people, presenting them with new, Covid-safe opportunities to help them feel connected, stable and secure enough to re-gain a sense of their futures. This has been done through moving our contact with them to virtual platforms, by having Zoom walks and, in one instance, facilitating one of our young people to organise an outside fitness session.

We know that young people in care and those leaving care are more likely to experience mental ill health. 46% of young people in care struggle with mental ill health compared with 12% of their peers. The young people we work with are 4-5 times more likely to attempt suicide than others of the same age. This Mental Health Awareness Week we are working to raise awareness of these discrepancies as well as sharing what we are doing to help. At Break we have tried to support young people to engage in conversations about mental wellbeing as well as safe activities that put them in touch with nature and the real world. We have worked with partners at Wrongs Covert (an ancient woodland space in Norfolk) to offer sessions for young people to engage in outdoor activities to think about the world around them and to seek solace in the fact that the seasons come and go, the sun rises and sets and there are some things that are predictable and safe.

 

We have had some incredible support over this time. We have had kind donations of bicycles to allow us to teach young people to ride a bike and enjoy the freedom it gives young people; we have a supporter who has gifted us the loan a property so that young people can have a seaside holiday and take time away from their normal lives; we have supporters who have offered their expertise to share their carpentry skills or nature knowledge to our young people. And we have had supporters that have funded Break to keep finding creative solutions, to send out “creative care packages” to young people who may feel isolated or too anxious to leave their house, to take solutions to young people rather than expect young people to be able to find their own way.

It has been a long and difficult year. I know that I have had times when I have needed to re-set my own wellbeing and I have done that by taking long walks and appreciating the  predictability of the sunrise and sunset. This chimes with this year’s theme in Mental Health Awareness week of all things nature.

What do you do to help you feel better?

 

- Rachel Cowdry

 

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