Birmingham mum Lucy Cole lost both of her parents, split from her husband and had to move house all within the space of a year.
The impact on her two daughters, aged 11 and six, was immense, leading the youngest to suffer with OCD and anxiety and the other to bottle up her feelings.
Lucy decided to take action by retraining as a grief and life coach so that she could help her family and others.
Feeling there were very few inspirational role models for young girls, she wrote a book and a journal all about a group of characters learning to overcome issues, conquer their fears and be brave. And she is now running wellbeing workshops in schools based on her experiences.
“In 2015 I lost my parents within a few weeks of each other and then split with my husband,” said Lucy, from Streetly, whose daughters are Sienna, now 17, and Eva, 12.
“It felt like my whole life fell apart. I left the marital home and became very depressed. My daughters lost their grandparents and their uncle and their parents split up. This has caused them to feel immense sadness at times and anxiety.
“But my girls talk to me. I realised that a lot of kids don’t know how to express their feelings or are scared to talk about their emotions in case they are judged or their friends laugh at them.”
Children’s mental health is an issue that’s being discussed constantly as a result of concerns about the negative impact of the pandemic on young people.
“Children’s lives feel very unstable at the moment,” said Lucy, who is trained in grief counselling and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).
“They don’t know whether or not they’ll be in school, they may have lost loved ones and be concerned that it might happen. We’re living in unstable times and I think that’s frightening for anyone but particularly for children. It’s leading to a lot of anxiety.
“And this is more so than ever before, especially due to social media with all its filtered photos, all the ‘perfect life’ photos that say ‘look at me and what I’m doing’.
“When my girls go out, I see them constantly taking photos on their phone. I say to them just put down your phone and have a nice time.”
Lucy’s book Faythe and the Fearstone is targeted at children aged 7-11 years of age, as Lucy says this is when kids start to make decisions that will stay with them through their teenage years and adulthood.
Her characters are deliberately flawed to make them more realistic than traditional heroines. In the story, they go on adventures in Doom Land Island, help each other deal with daily issues and learn how to overcome problems, conquer fears and be brave.
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“I noticed that there were very few inspirational role models for my girls, and they had to take a leap from animated princesses to wise-cracking live action America teens, which they seem too young for,” said Lucy, who used to run a property company with her ex-husband.
“Young children, both girls and boys from an early age as young as six, can struggle with daily issues and pressures from school, home and forming friendships and hopefully my book will help children understand their feelings and manage their mental health.”
“Through self-learning, and being provided with the correct tools and techniques, children can change their behaviour pattern, feelings and emotions.
“This is why Faythe and the Fearstone was developed, as I wanted to help my daughters and other children understand and talk about the feelings they were experiencing.”
Lucy is also starting to run well being workshops in schools where she will lead assemblies, talk about feelings and encourage group work on creative writing and emotions.
“It’s about getting them to open up about their fears, worries and feelings, not to be scared to say what is happening at home,” said Lucy, who has recently opened her own clinic on Anchorage Road in Sutton Coldfield called Love Life Coaching.
“All my characters have flaws, which I think is really important. Everything has to be perfect today, you have to have the perfect look, the perfect photo, the perfect life. That’s not reality. All my characters come from different backgrounds and they all have problems in their families, because that is life.
“It’s about telling them it’s OK not to be perfect, it’s OK to be scared.”
Lucy has also published a journal for young girls, with tips on exercise and healthy eating plus space to write down goals, fears and feelings.
Lucy added: “Nobody’s life is perfect and it’s how we deal with these imperfections in life that counts. It’s very important that this is installed in children’s minds from an early age so by going into schools and offering these workshops we can equip our children with the tools they need.
“My goal is to help children to recognise mental health at an early age and install positive thoughts and techniques to conquer their fears, build confidence and reach their full potential.
“I’m really passionate about getting kids to talk and instilling this in them from an early age. KS2 are formative years, what they do during this time tends to stay with them for the rest of their lives.”