Helen Cousin opens her heart during Mental Health Awareness Week 10th – 16th May 2021.

 ‘In June 2017 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?

I decided that I wanted to encourage young people to talk about their feelings and to seek help if it all became too much. Among Maisie’s possessions was a doodle that read ‘help me’ with the message changing to ‘I’m fine’ when turned upside down and I named the charity after the ambigram.

It soon became apparent that mental health isn’t an easy subject to just bring up in conversation, so the “help me, I’m 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 than I could ever have imagined, and the feedback was amazing; it was working.

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 about 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 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

     

 

Help Me, I’m Fine is going from strength to strength, we are now creating indoor and outdoor sensory / nurture areas, for 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; it’s how we deal with them that’s important.

The story for The Knot came to me during a sleepless night. It is an illustrated children’s rhyme that helps children deal with their feelings and cope with their anxieties. It talks about how their teachers also get knots in their tummies and what they do to ease them. It is descriptive, and often funny, making it easy for children to relate to it. It’s a great read for primary school aged children, and they find the illustrations bright and funny. It has connected with children in a way I never thought possible. So many children have found the past year difficult and I hope The Knot continues to reach out and help them.’

Helen Cousin

   

 

The Knot is available from the JJMoffs webshop priced at £6.99. Click here to order a copy now.