Kids in Control gives children the tools to cope

Sessions for children run by the Mental Illness Family Support Centre helps children whose family member has a mental illness.

Children may need extra support and reassurance when a close family member such as a parent, sibling or grandparent is affected by mental illness.

The Mental Illness Family Support Centre presents another session of Kids in Control for children ages eight to 13 this spring.

The after-school sessions are facilitated by mental health professionals and an adult who has experienced growing up in a home with a parent living with a mental illness. The group is provided with age-appropriate information in a safe and nurturing environment where they learn healthy coping skills, increase resiliency and self-esteem and have fun.

The children have healthy snacks, draw and colour, play active games and do crafts.

“It’s a fun group. You get lots of snacks. Don’t be scared if you’ve never been to a group before. It’s OK to try out new things. I learned new feeling words. The other kids were very nice to me. You can’t control mental illness. You can’t cause it. I can take care of myself,” said one former participant in the program.

A parent who had a child with an older sibling with mental illness in the program said, “My child was afraid and anxious and never knew what to expect. It is difficult for a child to understand and cope,” she said. “I thought it was excellent and it helped her to understand that she was not alone. It gave her the tools to be able to cope better at home and she couldn’t wait to get to the sessions. She was so much more relaxed at home.”

The program helps children learn that they did not cause the family member’s problem, they can’t change it but they can take care of themselves.

“She learned to do things like go and play, read or cook or do deep breathing. I see the change in my daughter being more comfortable in knowing how to deal with the situation. It has really helped our family.”

The Kids in Control Sessions run April 10 to May 29 from 3:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. at The People Place with a maximum of eight children. The program is free. For more information and registration, please call 250-260-3233 or e-mail bcssvernon@shaw.ca.