It’s Time to Talk about Mental Health
Did you know that today, 4th February, is Time to Talk Day?
Time to Talk Day is a day organised by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness to encourage people to talk about mental health and help end mental health stigma and discrimination. This year’s theme is “The Power of Small – a small conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference” https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/
So here I am with a small conversation about mental health. I read in a magazine recently that six in ten people in the UK today are finding it hard to stay positive during this third lockdown. Rates of depression are also doubling and it is no wonder – illness, bereavement, fear of the now, fear of what the future holds, anxiety, redundancy, reduced income, the stress of home schooling, social isolation and loneliness. These factors all play a part in making people feel anxious and low in mood.
For some of our adoptive families, lockdown has given them the opportunity to spend more time together and build on attachments with their children. However, we know of other families where children have struggled with changes in home routine and school life leading to increased stress and anxiety for adopters. Due to the current restrictions, it is also much harder for adopters to access their vital support networks in order to have a break and re-charge their batteries.
For those adopters, whose child has come to live with them since March 2020, there has been constant isolation. This has caused a lack of the usual opportunities to interact with other parents: no clubs or classes, and instead snatched conversations with other masked parents, in quiet playgrounds. As well as missed conversations that lead to shared laughter over what the children are up to or a sit down with a coffee to offload about the challenges of parenting. There are many children who have not yet been able to meet their new grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins or family friends and this can be painful for adopters, who looked forward to these moments and have had to make do with Zoom and suchlike.
What about post adoption depression?
The other area I need to mention, when talking about mental health and adoption, is post adoption depression. This is a recognised condition experienced by some adopters, which usually begins a month or so after a child is placed. It can be very difficult for adopters to acknowledge they feel down following adoption as so much energy has gone into getting to that point. In this blog from Adoption UK – https://www.adoptionuk.org/Blog/post-adoption-depression-what-no-one-told-me an adopter talks about her experience of post adoption depression.
If you are worried about your mental health do ask for help. Start small, if you need to, by speaking to your partner, friend or family member about how you feel and/or talk to a social worker or health professional such as your child’s health visitor or your GP.
Take a look at these five suggested ways to improve mental wellbeing: https://www.mind.org.uk/workplace/mental-health-at-work/taking-care-of-yourself/five-ways-to-wellbeing/
Written by Heather Liveston, Principal Social Worker at Adopters for Adoption.