JD Official | May 14, 2021

Mental Health Awareness Week: Joe from Kidscape

For Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, we’ve been opening up the conversation on all things mental health. Each day this week, we’ve been catching up with a different guest to talk about everything from how they help those suffering, to their own experiences.

Today we’re finding out about Joe Plumb at the JD Foundation’s charity partner; Kidscape. Kidscape’s vision is that all children can grow up in a world that’s free from bullying and harm, with adults who keep them safe and help to reach their full potential. Find out about Joe’s experiences with bullying and how Kidscape helps those in need right here!

Tell us a bit about yourself! What led you to start working with Kidscape?

I specialise in anti-bullying, Children’s Social Care, Mental Health, Anti-Bullying and safeguarding. Many people are forced into silence and feel like they are completely alone at their times of struggle.

I was bullied in school and combined with complex medical and mental health issues, this was very difficult to cope with. I ended up in a psychiatric unit and was in and out for most of 3 years because of the deterioration of my mental health, including suicidal attempts.

When I was 12, I got into volunteering at a specialist youth cafe devoted to young people with additional needs and who were getting into trouble. As well as volunteering for a number of other organisations, I campaigned to change mental health services and implement better ways to help children and young people stand up and speak out against bullying.

I started working with Kidscape because they helped me when I was struggling as a child and their work is amazing. I wanted to share my experiences and knowledge to help children and young people who are being bullied and to also raise awareness around how bullying can seriously impact a child’s mental health.

How can bullying affect someone’s mental health?

The impact bullying has on you, stays with you growing up. It doesn’t go away and if the help isn’t there as a child, it can have serious effects as an adult.

PTSD, depression, anxiety and just a few of the things that I battle with because of being bullied. This is why it’s the work Kidscape do is crucial and why mental health awareness is imperative.

How do you use your journey and experiences to help others?

It’s important for me to talk about all of my experiences and use them to help others and make change. People can relate more to someone who has been through similar things to them, and it makes you feel like you’re not alone and somebody understands.

Nobody should ever have to suffer in silence or feel like they will be judged for doing so. This is a stigma that we need to stamp out. They only way to do that is continuing to talk and encourage others to do so too. It’s not a weakness, it’s a strength and it takes so much courage to do so and it’s the hardest step to do.

What steps are Kidscape taking to support mental health?

Kidscape offer children’s ‘ZAP’ Workshops to help build confidence and self-esteem, which in turn, supports children’s mental health too. Not only this, but they support parents and carers too, which is vital when you think how hard it is for any parent/carer to know their child is being bullied and then sometimes feeling helpless and guilty. Kidscape support their mental health by being there for them and connecting them with other parents and carers through workshops. That really helps their anxiety and feeling of isolation.

This is a stigma that we need to stamp out.

Tying it back to this year’s theme of ‘nature’ – how do you think this can play a part in improving mental health?

Nature and the outdoors is great for our mental health and overall wellbeing. Spending time in green space or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. For example, doing things like growing food or flowers, exercising outdoors or being around animals can have lots of positive effects. It can:

Improve your mood
Reduce feelings of stress or anger
Help you take time out and feel more relaxed
Improve your physical health
Improve your confidence and self-esteem
Help you be more active

Being outdoors and getting exercise releases positive hormones called endorphins and serotonin, which make us feel better and a lot more positive overall. If you do this regularly, our brain strives for more of this so in turn it helps you to feel a lot better. We saw how positive this was in the first lockdown when the weather was nice and going outdoors was the only thing we could do. It also made us appreciate the small things a lot more.

Missed the previous posts? Catch up on Emma from PAPYRUS, Penny Jarrett, Stevie from YoungMinds and Danny Williams right here!

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