Children And Their Mental Health
Now more than ever our children and their mental health is being tested like never before. Here we take a look at some of the signs and how we can support our children who are having or showing some issues.
With Coronavirus being so prevalent in our lives for such a long time and children having to adapt in a way they have never done before, from being isolated away from friends to schools closing, we need to know early signs and how to support our children, now and in the future.
According to studies by the mental health foundation, they found that 1 in 10 children with some form of mental health illness, with that number probably rising due to the current pandemic. Unfortunately their statistics found that 70% of cases had not been picked up at an earlier stage.
By picking up on signs in an early age we can help our children lead a more positive and fulfilled life.
What is a Mental Illness
Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior (or a combination of these). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.
Warning signs that your child may have a mental health disorder include:
- Persistent sadness — two or more weeks
- Withdrawing from or avoiding social interactions
- Hurting oneself or talking about hurting oneself
- Talking about death or suicide
- Outbursts or extreme irritability
- Out-of-control behavior that can be harmful
- Drastic changes in mood, behavior or personality
- Changes in eating habits
- Loss of weight
- Difficulty sleeping
- Frequent headaches or stomachaches
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in academic performance
- Avoiding or missing school
By knowing what to look out for makes spotting any problems your child may be facing a little easier and goes a long way in supporting them through these issues.
If you are at all concerned about your child’s health, this can be both physical or mental, then speak to your doctor and share your concerns. You could talk to their teachers, friends and relatives to see if they have noticed anything different in their behaviour.
How we can help support our child with a mental health illness
You will play an important role in supporting your child if diagnosed with a mental health illness. To care for yourself and your child:
- Learn about the mental health illness.
- Consider family counseling that treats all members as partners in your child’s support.
- Ask your child’s mental health professional for advice on how to respond to your child and handle difficult behavior.
- Enroll in parent training programs, particularly those designed for parents of children with a mental illness.
- Explore stress management techniques to help you respond calmly.
- Seek ways to relax and have fun with your child.
- Praise your child’s strengths and abilities.
- Work with your child’s school to secure necessary support.
Children’s Mental Health Week
Place2Be set up the first ever children’s mental health week back in 2015 and is now into its 7th year. Their theme this year is express yourself. To view their website and the work they do please click here.
So what does expressing ourselves mean?
Expressing yourself is about finding ways to share feelings, thoughts, or ideas, through creativity. This could be through art, music, writing and poetry, dance and drama, photography and film, and doing activities that make you feel good.
It’s important to remember that being able to express yourself is not about being the best at something or putting on a performance for others. It is about finding a way to show who you are, and how you see the world, that can help you feel good about yourself.
There are lots of useful and helpful information, charities and contacts out there, please see our mental health contact page for more information.
Talking to close friends and relatives can help too, and we shouldn’t be afraid of talking about our concerns. As when we share our worries and not keep them bottled up, our problems become easier to deal with.
Let’s end the stigma surrounding mental health, look for the signs, treat the problems, help others, be kind and hopefully with communication and knowledge we can move forward to a more positive and fulfilling life.