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Brave Downham Market mum makes a stand for mental health

Controversy has raged in the past week about the number of pupils attending school under lockdown.

The number in class has ballooned this time compared to the first lockdown with some schools having 50 per cent of students in class.

Only the children of key workers are supposed to attend. But it is not always straightforward as Natasha Troughton, 27, of Downham, has explained to the Lynn News.

Natasha Troughton, 27 and son Caleb (43944629)
Natasha Troughton, 27 and son Caleb (43944629)

Her son Caleb, five, is attending Hillcrest Primary School, despite her not having key worker status.

Natasha, a single mother of three, has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and dyslexia. The initial lockdown in April 2020 "took it’s toll" on her mental health and she feels her children suffered as a result.

She said: “I felt isolated. I know everyone is in the same situation, but I was at home with my children, feeling unable to teach them anything.

Natasha Troughton, 27 and son Caleb (43944501)
Natasha Troughton, 27 and son Caleb (43944501)

"My mental health took a nosedive as a result, so many people are getting depressed because of Covid19 and lockdown, this is such a big issue and I feel like it’s being ignored.”

Caleb, who attends Hillcrest school, is very happy to be back, she said.

“It’s affected his reading and writing, it’s such a crucial stage for children and I’m concerned he will fall behind,” Natasha said,

Natasha Troughton, 27 (43944569)
Natasha Troughton, 27 (43944569)

“Because of my diagnoses I felt I couldn’t provide the same level of support other children get at home and I struggled to cope. I felt guilty because of my mental health problems and the kids suffered as a result. I have no partner to help me either.

“I got into a routine after lockdown was lifted and it took me months to get me back to a good place, with the support of Chatterton House, when I heard lockdown was happening again I was terrified of losing that stability and I could have easily spiralled downwards out of control into a depression. With Bipolar you go up and down I need stability to function.”

Natasha appealed to her personal mental health worker from Chatterton House when lockdown was announced earlier this year, who spoke to the school and managed to ensure Caleb got a place.

“My mental health worker contacts me every week, she understands the impact this will have on me and my children and I am so grateful Caleb has a chance to be at school and have social contact, it’s allowed me to cope with the situation better.

"I know people will judge me but I’m making a stand because I believe mental health is important.”

With each wave of the virus, there is a symbiotic spike in mental health issues. Charities such as Norfolk Mind and the NHS Lynn based service Chatterton House have been overwhelmed with pandemic related mental health cases.

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