My daughter had been struggling with severe anxiety for quite a few months when the opportunity came up to take part in a Mind photo shoot. She had isolated herself from her school friends and was being physically sick at the thought of having to go into school. The school had not been great with her anxiety and had on one occasion said to her, 'If you don’t come into school your mum will end up in court!' This obviously made my daughter feel terrible as she was already struggling with anxiety and panic attacks. To be told it would be her fault if I had to go to court pushed her over the edge. She ended up in hospital after an attempt to take her own life and following this we withdrew her from school.
I thought it would help her to see that others also suffer mental health issues and that she wasn't alone.
My daughter struggled to move forward after this episode, taking to her bed and not really communicating with anyone. She was on the waiting list for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and I was desperately trying to support her with her anxiety, looking at ways I could help her understand it better and see she was not alone. We had started looking at the Mind website and were using some of the information to gain a greater understanding of why she was feeling how she did and some strategies to help her. This is when we came across the opportunity to take part in the Mind photo shoot. I tentatively suggested she apply as I thought it would help her to see that others also suffer mental health issues and that she wasn't alone. I also thought it might build up her self-esteem and give her something to look forward to.
She started to talk more about her feelings, mainly around the photo shoot and her anxieties.
Following her acceptance on the photo shoot, her mood began to change. She started to talk more about her feelings, mainly around the photo shoot and her anxieties. She started to express the thoughts she was having and how they made her feel breathless, which made her feel anxious. The photo shoot team were fantastic, keeping in regular communication, both through the Mind staff and the photo agency. Everyone was so friendly and helpful, which definitely helped to relieve some of my anxieties and my daughter’s.
On the day of the photo shoot, my daughter became worried that she wouldn’t be able to do it and that she’d make a mess of it. However, once we got to the shoot everyone was so welcoming, offering us refreshments, introducing us to everyone and letting us know how the day would pan out. I initially did most of the talking, but once my daughter felt more at ease she started joining in conversations, laughing and having fun with the other teenagers . The team were happy for me to stay and were great whilst my daughter was having her photos taken, giving me advice and support and talking about their own experiences. This was refreshing as so many people hide away from talking about mental health problems because they find it scary.
I truly believe that taking part in the photo shoot contributed to her recovery.
In the period following the photo shoot, the team kept in touch and sent my daughter a lovely thank you and gift card, which she was so chuffed about. For the first time in ages she asked to go shopping!
It has been a long journey for my daughter and me - I truly believe that taking part in the photo shoot contributed to her recovery. It gave her back the confidence she had lost, making her feel like she was worth something and that she wasn’t odd or bad because she couldn’t manage school with her anxieties. It made her see that there are so many options and means of support available to her.
I would recommend getting involved in Mind’s work to any parent of a child with mental health problems.
A year on and she is a totally different person. She is quietly confident, has built new friendships and is doing well with her home schooling. Only this week she attended an interview for college and came out of it with an unconditional offer to start in September. This would never of happened a year ago, so I thank the team for supporting her on her road to recovery. I would recommend getting involved in Mind’s work to any parent of a child with mental health problems - the support and encouragement the kids got on that day was amazing!