Hold Them Close

Hold Them Close – Big Feelings

Shockingly, there were 6,188 suicides in the UK in 2015. Men aged between 40-44 had the highest rate of suicides and female suicides were recorded as the highest in a decade in England. Male suicides are around 3 times higher than female in the UK (statistics from Samaritans 2017 report). Horrifyingly, 1 in 10 children have a clinically diagnosable mental health condition (Children’s Society, 2008).

Grapat Nins of the Forest big feelings

As a mum, the mental health and wellbeing of my little one, terrifies me. It feels like an invisible danger that could take hold of our little ones and steal them away, without us knowing. It’s a disease that we can’t see, we can only feel the impact that it has upon the ones we love. Mental health conditions do not discriminate, they can affect any one of us. Some people may be genetically predisposed or circumstances in life can impact on our mental health, but it is a personal struggle, unique to the individual. However, it doesn’t need to be a journey that someone travels alone – family, friends, health professionals and organisations can all be sources of support. It’s important we act now to help our children to recognise how they are feeling, learn coping mechanisms and know how to access support.


When teaching in the early years, before having my little one, three things were incredibly important to me to develop in my classroom. Firstly, a safe and secure environment where children felt comfortable to share their feelings and confident that they would be heard and listened to. Good modelling by adults within the setting to help children to understand emotions and develop strategies to overcome challenges. Secondly, the language to be able to express themselves – emotional literacy – to be able to recognise and say how they are feeling. Opportunity to role play situations and solutions, play feelings games, experiment with different expressions in a safe environment. Lastly, helping to develop strategies to be able to support children to help themselves when feelings get too big and to ensure children know who they can turn to for support when they feel overwhelmed.

big feelinsg playing with nins

Now a Mum to my almost two year old, my three important beliefs as a teacher are exactly what I do at home. A loving, sharing and caring environment where the language of emotions is used and encouraged and together we develop strategies to help boost our mental health and our ability to cope with challenges faced.


So, as parents, guardians, family and friends what can you do to help support the mental health of the children you love?


  • Let your little one know it is OK to show their emotions – yes even the boys! I do think that there is still a divide in what we think is socially acceptable for boys and girls when it comes to emotions – could that have any reflection in the suicide statistics?
  • Give your little one the language to express themselves. Use words to describe emotions and feelings for yourself, them and others.
  • Narrate to help them understand. I can see that you are angry because x took your toy. I can see you are upset…. etc. This emotions puzzle can help.Emotions Learning Puzzle big feelings
  • Calm spot – have a quiet spot where they can go to calm down. I don’t mean the ‘naughty spot’. I mean an area with cushions and blankets and soft toys that they can snuggle with and feel safe.
  • Relaxing toys – toys that support mindfulness. Toys that help role play such as dolls/ figures and houses.

    big feelings
    Hape All Seasons House – Fully Furnished
  • Hugs. Hugs. Then some more hugs! One way to have your baby/ little one close is to use a sling or carrier.lsing baby carrier feelings
  • Show your emotions to help them understand. Children know. Hiding emotions teaches them that they should hide theirs. Now I’m not saying if you are really angry that it’s appropriate to shout and throw things – I’m saying that your little one will know you are angry, so letting them know you’re angry and why (if appropriate) and what you’re going to do to help calm yourself down is teaching them how to cope with anger in future and that it’s OK to feel angry. I remember my Mum crying when our beloved, family cat died and telling me that she was upset because he was part of our family. I understood, I was upset and she taught me it was OK to show how I was feeling.
  • Certain situations can be helped by exploring them before hand through roleplay, stories and games such as the arrival of a new baby and a hospital visit for example.

My New Baby [NEW EXPERIENCES] book big feelings

Get further support from –

  • Samaritans – Call 116 123 – Email jo@samaritans.org
  • Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) for men – 0800 58 58 58 – they also have a webchat facility
  • Papyrus – for people under 35 – Call 0800 068 41 41 – Text 07786209697
  • Childline – for children and young people under 19 – Call 0800 1111 – the number doesn’t show up on your phone bill
  • The silver Line – for older people – Call 0800 4 70 80 90

I Will Listen, I Will Care: World Suicide Prevention Day

Written by Milly Smith
Instagram & Facebook @selfloveclubb

Would you be able to help a suicidal person?

Would you see the signs of someone considering suicide?

The sad fact of the matter is that we live in a society in which 12 men every single day take their own lives in the UK alone. That’s 12 husbands, fathers, sons, friends.

We live in a world that every 12 seconds in the US someone takes their own life. Can you even comprehend those figures?

My heart aches, as I imagine yours will do at the thought of so many lives lost at their own hands. The world can be cruel and harsh but it can also be beautiful and amazing, suicide is a permanent answer to a temporary question. It breaks families, it crushes communities and most of all it’s a devastating loss of a hurting soul.

We can help push these figures into smaller and smaller numbers. Early warning signs are absolutely vital. The most painfully dangerous misconception is that suicidal people are going to ‘look suicidal’ are going to be crying, losing weight, stood on the end of a bridge. But no, it’s simply not the case. Many people who are planning on suicide seem happy, seem positive, they may be treating themselves like they haven’t done before, they may be making holidays and spending time with family. Suicidal tendencies are often well hidden, disguised on purpose so you won’t stop them OR they can be sudden and seemingly out of nowhere.

suicide preventaion day

The early warning signs for suicide could be as follows, knowing these could save lives:

Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs;
Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless;
Sleeping too little or too much;
Withdrawing or feeling isolated;
Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge;
Displaying extreme mood swings.

It could be something completely different to these but the important thing is going with your gut feeling, stick by someone you are worried about, check in on those you know are struggling. Even simple things like posting articles about suicide onto your social media can help, can educate and might just bring someone back from the edge by breaking down the stigma and starting a potential conversation. Make them aware of crisis numbers in your area, remind them that you care, these tough times will pass and if they just hold on for 10 seconds at a time then they’ll see that sun poking through eventually, let them know you believe in them, that you’re here for them and not going to let them slip away.

I’ve been to the bottom and I’ve lost friends to suicide. I remember feeling like I was a burden to everyone who knew me and even to those who didn’t. I look back now and I’m so glad that I’m here. I’m so glad that I’m living my life with my baby boy, I’m grateful for my time here and I’m grateful for those who helped me.

If you’re feeling lost, hopeless of even suicidal then I want you to take this as your sign to stay. I want you to take this as your sign that you’re going to make it through today, tonight and the next week, you’re going to be okay. It may take minutes, weeks, months but you’re not alone, you’re not weak and your life is valuable, important and wanted here. Reach out, extend your arm and let those willing to grab it pull you close.

Just remember, this will pass.