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#Time to Talk Day

Rachel Fearnley
#Time to Talk Day

Today is #Time to Talk day – a chance for us all to be more open about mental health. I really hope the day is a great success and as a result of it people start to feel more able to talk and listen about mental health and mental wellbeing. Children and young people who are living with a parent who has a life-limiting illness can be at risk of experiencing mental ill health. The changes and challenges that the illness brings into their family can be hugely stressful. The uncertainty of the diagnosis and prognosis can be very unsettling and create stress and anxiety for them. This is compounded when the adults around the children don’t take time to talk to them about what is happening and don’t take time to listen. It is so important that children and young people can feel able to talk about their anxieties and begin to explore these in a safe place. If the adults around them avoid talking (and listening) about the illness this adds to the children’s fears. It can give a very clear message that they are not important and that their thoughts, fears and worries about the illness are secondary. As a society we are very poor at talking about dying and death. We tend to try and avoid this great big taboo. And no it isn’t easy and it isn’t the kind of conversation we want to be having. But if we feel reluctant how must the children be feeling? Time to Talk Day is a great opportunity to start thinking how we can better support children when a parent has a life-limiting illness. How can we make time to listen to them and to help them explore in a safe way their feelings? What can we do to make a difference? If you are a professional working with children and young people my book ‘Communicating with Children when a Parent is at the End of Life’ (Jessica Kinglsey) provides practical help and support for beginning those potentially difficult conversations. https://www.jkp.com/uk/communicating-with-children-when-a-parent-is-at-the-end-of-life.html Somewhere in the UK right now there will be a child or young person desperate to talk about their parent’s life-limiting illness – let’s make a difference.

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