I received a letter from my middle son’s school today. It was from the school counselor about how she would like to have him join a small counseling group during the school day for the next few weeks. At first I was taken aback. I was just at his parent teacher conference last night. I made a point of asking how he was getting along with his classmates or if he ever seemed nervous in class, but nothing of concern was raised by his teacher. In fact it was an overwhelmingly positive conference. The reason I specifically asked about how he was doing lately was because he is my more anxious kid. He gets worked up about little things like forgetting his lunch box at home, but doesn’t seem to sweat the big things like getting on stage and playing piano in front of an audience full of people. He came home a couple of times this year upset that someone on the bus called him fat or his friends laughed at a mistake he made in choir so he decided to quit. He talks about some of his friends at school getting into fights and one of those times I received a call from the principal because he recorded one of said fights on his iPod. So of course I checked in with his teacher during our spring conference and was relieved when she said all was good.
I’m embarrassed at my initial reaction. I shouldn’t have been so shocked by this letter, and if I am being honest, I may have even felt a little defensive; not my child, he would never need counseling. But after a beat, I realized this is something that should be offered regularly to all of our children.
We shouldn’t feel the need to lower our voices to a whisper when we talk about our mental health and that of our children. We should be talking about it like we talk about their reading levels (which is another topic I need to write about another day). While I feel it is definitely improving, there is still a sense of shame when people talk about going to counseling or having depression or taking anti-anxiety medication. But if you’ve ever been to talk to someone, it feels really good. It helps you make sense of things and validates how you are feeling. It is only a good thing. I know for a fact, if we talked more openly about mental health we would find most of us need a little help, maybe not all the time, but some of the time, for sure. And that is OK. It OK to ask for and get help. So my son will absolutely be a part of the small counseling group at his school over the next few weeks.