We are using this Mental Health Awareness Week to take a look at how we work – to check-in with ourselves and our staff and examine how ‘kindness’ informs and underpins our practice.
There are themes of kindness in our every day: in our support of children, parents, families, school staff and senior leaders.
Our kindness is at the heart of all we do. It is most evident when we hold a child in mind positively and we share our thinking about what might be happening for that child who appears disruptive but who we can instinctively and unapologetically see the good in.
The theme of kindness: empathy
What helps us see beyond an unkind, challenging, disruptive act? It is our ability to empathise.
When we empathise with someone, we walk in their shoes. We remove our own lens and look at what a child’s (or parent’s) life may look like.
When we do this, we see beyond the explicit and we are curious. When we begin to think about the beliefs a child may hold about themselves and what may have informed these beliefs, we see beyond the negative behaviour around a child and we stay present instead. It is our presence which makes us most powerful.
The theme of kindness: listening
We have never provided so much supervision to school staff. We know that staff are burdened by the expectations placed upon them by schools, the government, parents and by themselves.
We also know that staff are unfailing in their commitment to support children and young people. The commitment needed of them now more than ever, involves looking after the emotional wellbeing of the children and young people in their care.
When we take the time to listen intently to all that they say, and at times don’t say, we are able to bear the burden alongside them and that affects change.
The theme of kindness: bearing the difficult stuff
Our team hears so much in their every day and often it is difficult stuff to hear, bear or sit alongside. The care we have for our clients is at the heart of our work.
'Sarah' - a young client of ours told us that she has never felt better than “when I talk to [the bccs counsellor] because I get to leave it all behind”.
When we bear the things children need to tell us, we relieve them from carrying the emotion attached to difficult experiences.
The theme of kindness: being kind
We work tirelessly alongside parents, often when they feel at the end of their tether and at their lowest ebb.
It is painful for any parent to feel difficult things about their child: frustration, anger, irritation, dislike. We support parents to understand that these are normal feelings and are in response to their child’s projections.
We work with parents to put certain situations into context, and we give them a language and a frame of reference to understand their child’s processes. This empowers parents and frees them from unnecessary feelings of guilt and inadequacy.
The theme of kindness: capturing the good stuff
Children, parents and staff become consumed and preoccupied by the things they don’t do, or they feel they don’t do well enough.These beliefs come from our internalised world, informed by our experiences.
Sometimes we need an ally, an advocate and someone who remembers to hold onto perspective in the times we can’t. The relationships we have with our clients, parents and schools allows us to be their champion when they don’t feel good enough.
We love this part of our job: it allows us the opportunity to remember the stuff we are good at too.
Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of Mental Health Federation reminds us why they have chosen Kindness as the theme of this year's Mental Health Awareness Week - arguably the most important theme they have chosen yet:
We have chosen kindness because of its singular ability to unlock our shared humanity. Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health.