Christine's story How Family SMILES helped her come to terms with mental health issues

man and woman watching children playing"My son had anger problems in school, and his teachers brought it to my attention. I knew there was something wrong because, to be honest, he had been behaving in exactly the same way at home.

"I struggled to get help and one day mentioned what was happening to a friend at Sure Start who said she knew someone who might be able to offer us some support.

"When I heard 'NSPCC', I thought: 'I don't know about going down that road'. I had always associated the charity with physical and mental abuse – like the ads you see on TV. My first concern was that if people knew I was involved with NSPCC they'd think I was hurting my kids in some way. But I put those fears aside, and went along to the Belfast Service Centre to hear a bit more. 

"When he walked into the centre and saw the NSPCC mat on the floor he literally stopped dead in his tracks."
Christine*

"I had a good talk through some of the options and agreed that Family SMILES was a good fit for our family. I told my husband that our son was going for counselling, but didn't tell him it was with NSPCC. Then one day he was off work, and said he'd like to come to a session with us. When he walked into the centre and saw the NSPCC mat on the floor he literally stopped dead in his tracks.

"He was hesitant and wanted to know what on earth I had got the family involved in, but I told him NSPCC was about more than we'd realised, and he agreed to listen. The team talked through his concerns, and by the end he was content that this was the best thing for our son.

"To be honest, I had thought I was over the post-natal depression I suffered after our daughter was born, but when I spoke to the team at NSPCC I started to realise that it really helped speaking about it, even so long after it had been a problem.

"For the first time ever, my husband told me how he felt when I was ill. I'd never really thought about it before – when you're suffering from depression you can only see what you're feeling. It really opened my eyes as to how bad it was for him, and at the same time he got to hear my side. I was even able to start talking to the children, and explaining what I'd experienced.

"Through our work with the NSPCC team we uncovered some other problems my son had, including medically, which contributed to his aggressive behaviour. It enabled us to start taking a very different view of him, and of our family. 

"We're able to speak about things we never did before, and getting everything out in the open was the most amazing weight off my shoulders."
Christine

"The Family SMILES programme was absolutely the best thing I could have done for my son, for me, for my husband – for my whole family. We're able to speak about things we never did before, and getting everything out in the open was the most amazing weight off my shoulders.

"I hadn't realised the impact post-natal depression had had on me even until that point, and on the whole family. When I was depressed I thought everybody was against me, and that people were trying to undermine me as a mother and take my children away.

"I would say to anyone not to be afraid to speak to NSPCC – they're so nice. The team will help you out, no matter how you're feeling, so don't let the adverts put you off."


*DISCLAiMER

Names have been changed to protect identity. Photographs have been posed by models.

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