Teen launches gift boxes for those struggling with mental health
- Credit: Louise Harrington
Getting through the coronavirus lockdowns - especially the current one - has been a struggle for many people, both young and old.
And the sense of loneliness and uncertainty the lockdowns have brought has been especially challenging for someone like Cienna Harrington, who has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The 13-year-old from Reepham said keeping her fingers occupied with fidget toys had been one way she had dealt with panic attacks and anxiety during the winter months of the third lockdown.
Now Cienna, with help from her mum, Louise Harrington, has launched a website called www.ciennasspace.com to highlight mental health issues, especially among children, and sell gift boxes she hopes will help others deal with their own internal struggles.
Cienna said: "I know how much I struggle with mental health and some of my friends and family struggle with it as well, so I thought this was really important.
“The first lockdown wasn’t as bad as this one, because we thought it was only going to be for a few weeks.
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“Then there was the second one and the third one, and it didn’t really feel like it was going to stop."
Ms Harrington, 44, added: “It was a case of not being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and not having dates for things to change, which was the hardest part.”
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Cienna has designed the gift boxes, which are themed around various situations.
For example, one box called 'Relax me' has items including fidget toys, stickers, a notepad "because sometimes it easier to write things down than to talk about them", popping candy, and an ice pack which Cienna has found helps sooth her nerves when she has a panic attack.
Another pack called 'Our night in' includes extras such as sweets, designable pillowcases with fabric pens, popcorn and skin-soothing face masks.
Cienna said: "There are also magnetic rings, which you can twizzle around in your fingers, and there are poppers, which you can pop like bubble wrap. They make a really satisfying sound."
The packs also include cards designed by Cienna, with the words 'I am..' and 'You are..' written on them, which people can use to leave themselves or others positive messages.
Ms Harrington said as well as the website, Cienna had set up Facebook and Instagram pages called Cienna's Space.
She said: "A lot of people don't understand what children have been going through with the lockdowns and people can be quick to judge.
"I think she's been really brave doing this and coming out about the issues that she struggles with on social media.
"It has been really well taken by other people, and other children especially, that she knows weren't really aware of what she was going through."
A report published in February by the charity Young Minds, found 75pc of people aged 13-25 had found this lockdown harder to cope with than previous ones, and many young people were worried about whether their friendships would recover, the impact on their education and their prospects of finding work.
Ms Harrington said the website had been met with a positive reception in the few days since its launch, and they had sold their first gift box within a half-an-hour of when it went live on the internet.
Cienna is donating £1 from each gift box sold to the mental health charity Mind. The I Am and You Are cards can also be bought separately.