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Preparing for parenthood

Nisha Sikka is a member of the Transition To Parenthood project which is trying to open a dialogue about mental health issues and parenting by inviting visitors to Cameron Recreation Centre to complete a statement on white boards. - MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER
Nisha Sikka is a member of the Transition To Parenthood project which is trying to open a dialogue about mental health issues and parenting by inviting visitors to Cameron Recreation Centre to complete a statement on white boards.
— image credit: MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER

The decision to have children is loaded with questions. About finances, the strength of the parents’ relationship, where they are in their lives.

Rarely, though, do they give much thought to their own mental health.

Nisha Sikka is trying to change that.

She’s a youth member of the Transition to Parenthood team at the FORCE Society For Kids’ Mental Health that has embarked on a special project to get people thinking and talking about their mental health as they take on the challenges of parenting.

Until Feb. 11, Family Day, Sikka and other members of the team will be stationed in the downstairs lobby of the Cameron Recreation Centre with special posters inviting visitors young and old to share their thoughts to complete the statement “As a parent I want…”

The ideas expressed on the posters will eventually form the basis for a video exploring the issues surrounding mental health and parenthood. But as people read some of the entries and contribute their own with a coloured Sharpie, Sikka says she hopes it will spark a dialogue.

“A lot of people are scared, they’re worried about how to handle the challenges of parenthood,” says Sikka. “It’s important for them to know they’re not the only one.”

Like the parent who finished the statement by writing they wanted “a gold medal.” Or another who requested “more resources.”

That’s something Sikka says she’s heard a lot.

“There are lots of programs to help parents once they become parents, but we need to be more proactive before they become parents.”

That’s especially important when it comes to mental health, which encompasses everything from a person’s emotional well-being to the state of their relationships with family and friends.

“Mental wellness is a part of a healthy lifestyle,” says Sikka. “To teach mental wellness as a parent, you have to be mentally well yourself.”

To learn more about the Transition to Parenthood project or to download a toolkit to become a part of it, go to www.forcesociety.com

 

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