Turn2Me, a national mental health charity, is launching a support group for parents of bullied children. The charity saw an increase in the number of parents signing up for their services, looking for help on how to support their child experiencing bullying.
“Bullying can take many forms,” said Fiona O’Malley, CEO of Turn2Me. “It ranges from name-calling and exclusion to physical assault. Bullying is amplified when it’s online. It follows young people home. When content is shared online, children and teenagers can feel ridiculed, humiliated, and worry about the content being dispersed to a wider audience.
“We hear about young people who are bullied by their own friends – this seems to be particularly prevalent in all-girls schools. Teenagers are already going through so many hormonal and physical changes. Some parents can feel helpless when their child is going through this period. This support group will give parents the space to voice their concerns, it will allow them to meet with people going through similar difficulties, it’s totally anonymous, and most importantly, it will be facilitated by a mental health professional who can give them some helpful tools.”
“’You are only as happy as your saddest child’ are words that resonate with most parents. Our children are navigating a world that we are not familiar with.” Suzanne Ennis, Clinical Manager at Turn2Me, said.
“Our children’s childhood is shorter, they are exposed to more, younger. They interact with friends online, they chat online, they post about themselves online. What appears to be a simple Wi-Fi connection can have devastating effects. Not only does cyber bullying follow them home, but social media apps also promote unattainable perfection, so young people’s self-esteem is at further risk.
“Your child may have gone from talking to you, to radio silence.”
Suzanne continued, “They can be almost unrecognisable sometimes in both appearance and personality, and living in a world that you potentially don’t understand or know how to navigate. You are not alone! Most parents are trying their best to navigate the potentially destructive years of puberty. Register for this group and arm yourself with some tools to assist everyone, learn ways to keep both yourself and your child safe, improve means of communication, and set realistic boundaries. Every parent wants their child to be safe and happy.
“The parent/teenager relationship requires flexibility. They’re no longer a child, not yet an adult, but you will always be their parent! If you were on a plane the instruction is to put your oxygen mask on first, then your child’s. This support group is your oxygen mask so register today on Turn2Me.ie.”
The support groups will start on Wednesday 27 this week, at 7pm, and run for 3 months – September, October and November, on the last Wednesday of each month, at 7pm.
Turn2Me is supported by the HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention to deliver counselling online. Founded in 2009 by Oisin and Diarmuid Scollard, who tragically lost their brother, Cormac, to suicide in 2003, Turn2me offers adult counselling and support group services to adults and young people aged 12 plus. Turn2Me has helped over 120,000 people since it was set up in 2009. Turn2Me offers up to six free counselling sessions to adults living in Ireland. To sign up, go to Turn2Me.ie
For parents who cannot make the support group, Turn2Me offers the below tips:
1. Keep communication channels open. The more you build a strong relationship with your child, the better. If they trust you and come to you to talk, the less alone they will feel and the more you’ll be aware of any difficulties they’re facing.
2. Encourage your child or teenager to do a ‘social media detox’ by deleting the apps from their phone, particularly during periods of high pressure, for example, coming up to the Leaving Cert, as this will reduce unnecessary anxiety that comes from social media. Ask them if they think social media is good for their mental health, and if not, encourage them to delete their accounts.
3. Try to broaden your child’s social circle by encouraging them to sign up to local sports teams, activities, or clubs. The more friends they have, the less they’ll worry if they’re excluded from one group of friends.
4. Tell them that bullying is temporary. Most people go through a period of bullying, but it does end. The town they grow up in isn’t the only place they’re stuck for the rest of their lives. If they go to college, travel, or get a job they love when they grow up, they’re more likely to be surrounded by like-minded people who they will have more in common with.
5. Plan fun family activities so that they have nice things to look forward to.
6. If the bullying persists, speak to someone in their school or college.
7. If the bullying involves threats or makes your child feel unsafe, report it to the guards.