Points of Light winner Helen Cousin shares her story about setting up a charity supporting children to talk about their feelings.
Help me, I’m fine was created in June 2017 after our lives change forever when our beautiful 16-year-old daughter, Maisie, took her own life. We had no idea that our funny, bright, caring girl was suffering, and it left us devastated.
Why couldn’t she have talked to us?
How many more young people were going through this invisible turmoil that could, eventually, force them into making such a desperate decision?
Starting a conversation
I decided that I wanted to encourage young people to talk about their feelings and to seek help if it all became too much. It soon became apparent that mental health isn’t an easy subject to just bring up in conversation, so the “help me,im fine” ambigram pin badge was put into production.
It was made using the design that we found in Maisie’s bedroom following her death. I wanted it in her favourite colour- purple, to help draw attention. Just maybe someone would ask what it was for and a mental health conversation could begin.
The demand for the pin was higher then I could ever have imagined and the feedback was amazing, it was working.
Practical tools to help children
I started wondering how we could encourage talking about mental health to be “normalised” just as you might talk about a physical ailment. As a teaching assistant in a primary school, it seemed to me that if we encourage children from a young age to talk about their feelings, and give them the tools they need to help them self regulate, they will grow up being able to talk their emotions more comfortably when going through life’s difficult transitions.
From the donations for the badges, events and my children’s book The Knot, we have been able to fund seven local schools in Thrive approach training which looks at individual children and creates a programme to help them with their emotional needs, this too, has been amazing with the most positive success stories, it has quite simply, changed lives.
Time to talk
Help me, im fine is going from strength to strength, we are now creating indoor and outdoor sensory/ nurture areas, for the children (and adults) who need a space to calm and reset.
I am always thinking of ways to help children understand that we all get feelings that might make us act in an irrational way, its how we deal with them that’s important.
My advice to anyone struggling…its time to talk.