Ginny Dennehy on Children’s Mental Health
VancouverMom.ca is a proud sponsor of The Sandbox project. This is an all-day fundraising event for children’s mental health on Saturday, August 16, 2014 at Stanley Park. We asked Ginny Dennehy of The Kelty Patrick Dennehy to share her story with us.
Q: How was The Kelty Patrick Dennehy foundation started?
On March 2, 2001, we lost our 17 year old son, Kelty, after a short battle with depression, otherwise known as the ‘Silent Killer’. We were devastated by the loss of our beautiful son and determine to prevent others from traveling the same journey. The Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation was founded that same year. Read the full story.story: )
I don’t want anyone else to go through what we went through. No parent should ever have to experience that. We wanted to speak out and warn others about the symptoms and the danger of mental illness.
Q: What are some of the signs that parents should watch out for?
Watch for any kind of change in behaviour in your children. It can be as simple a change in their eating, sleeping or mood patterns. Pay attention to their friendship dynamic and how they interact with other people.
As a parent, we can’t afford to ignore these signs. These subtle little changes, they could be normal childhood behaviour but they could also be symptoms of something else.
Q: How do you do this without constantly worrying?
Mothers do kind of worry. It is the responsibility of a parent to understand and then go get professional opinion. You can’t just ignore it. You can’t.
Sometimes people are scared to think their child could have a mental disease. It’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s nothing to be stigmatized about. If your child had diabetes, would you ignore that? This is the same thing. The reason is because there is shame around it. We have to get over it. There is nothing to be ashamed of. It is not their choice to suffer from mental illness.
Q: Any advice to parents whose children are dealing mental health issues?
The journey that you have with the child with mental illness can be a very long and exhausting journey. You need to stay close, but not smother. You need to be patient and be there for them. It’s hard to understand what they are going through – the pain and the difficulty.
They often feel that they are not normal. Help make your kid feel normal. Everyone wants to belong and feel accepted. Understand the child and know what his triggers are. Most importantly, get the whole family engaged and involved in the process. Mental illness won’t be cured overnight; it will be a process. But people can live with mental illnesses and they can live a healthy and happy life with it.
Q: Why did you get involved with the Sandbox project?
1. We love the idea of doing something fun and creative, for youth, and out in the open. Mental health and illness is often talked about behind closed doors. We love the idea of bringing people together out in the open and getting them to talk about this disease. It’s when you start talking about mental health that you being to remove the stigma.
2. We love the idea of reaching out to a whole new audience. We want to tell them our message – our story – in hopes that they never have to go through what we went through.
3. We love the idea of working with the team at Passage Give. They are young and energetic, and they want to tackle this issue in a whole new light. It’s really encouraging to see a group of a younger generation diving in to problems like this. It makes me hopeful that we can one day pass the torch on and continue to make a difference. The energy and effort they are putting towards this is really amazing to see.
Q: How can we as a community help?
There are two ways the community can really help. The first is to start talking about mental health. Get engaged, learn about it and become aware of what it is or isn’t. That way we can remove the stigma associated with mental illnesses.
The truth is, there is still a lot that we don’t understand about mental health and we need financial support to do more research.
Join us on August 16, 2014, as we open up The World’s Largest Sandbox, to raise fund for Children’s Mental Health. It’s going to be a day of fun, sunshine, and smiles. Build sand castles, play mini golf and laugh in a bouncy castle. There will be kids yoga, live music and tasty food trucks.
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