According to the Mental Health Foundation, nearly one in 10 children and young people aged five to 16 are affected by a kids mental health problem.

I think we all agree that the emotional well-being of kids is just as important as their physical health.  However, despite the knowledge and awareness of mental health being on the rise, 70% of young people who experience a mental health problem do not receive the appropriate support.   

And did you know that half of all adult mental health problems start by the age of 14, and 75% by the age of 18.

Some of the most common mental health problems affecting children and young people include:

  • depression
  • self-harm
  • generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • eating disorders

As a parent who is open and very vocal about my own struggles with mental health, I am acutely aware that my children are more likely to be affected with their own issues, for to that very reason.  And with all the pressures that comes with being a kid in this digital age, then how do we ensure that we are there for our kids and help them get the help they need as soon as possible…

How can we help?

  1. Talk about it – Research has shown that talking openly and honestly about mental health ensures that issues can be identified earlier on.  If we ensure that our kids realise it is not something to be embarrassed or ashamed about then hopefully they will seek help when (and if) they need it.  Unsure what to say, we use the Mind Tools For Kids Coaching Cards which give us some great starting points.
  2. Create a safe place – Kids do better when they feel safe.  So try where possible to ensure they feel listened to and heard when at home.  It’s not always easy and especially when you have more than one, kids can end up feeling left out.  Try as much as possible to take the time to talk to them individually each day, even if it is just for 5 mins at bedtime each night.
  3. Encourage social activities – this has been shown to help have a positive impact on kids, by providing a space for them to work on their emotions and develop ways of coping with the challenges they face.  But do keep a check on this and play it by ear, as sometimes these kind of situations can have the opposite effect on a child.  You know your child best…
  4. Ensure they get enough sleep – If you are anything like me then I get really irritable with only a few hours’ sleep!  Well it’s just the same for kids.  A lack of sleep can cause us to experience higher levels of stress, so making sure they get to bed on time will pay off and help reduce stress.
  5. Teach them to relax – It’s all about balance, so as much as social/physical activities help, so does the ability for them to be able to switch off, especially in such a digital age.  Encourage them to have some quiet time each day; reading a book, listening to (appropriate) music or drawing for example.  A great way to wind down at the end of day, or on an afternoon.

Create strength!

We need to break down the stigma, ensure our kids don’t have to deal with that as well as their own mental health.  We need to help them become strong enough in themselves that not only will they be able to open up about their own mental health, and seek the support they require; but be able to support their peers with any challenges they may face also.

 

In a world where you can be anything, be kind – Unknown

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