Mental health matters to all of us, and parents play a key role in supporting their child’s mental health. When parents are open to talking about mental health with their children, they help overcome the stigma that it’s a weird or taboo topic.
After all, each of us has a mind and mental health, just like we all have a body and physical health. Our mind and our body are linked, and the health of one area often has a big impact on the other.
In celebration of World Mental Health Day, take time to try modeling these behaviors at home and together as a family. These are choices that support your family’s mental and physical health. Make a list of these healthy habits and track how often you do each:
- Allow time to notice, label, and talk about feelings and thoughts
- When a particular feeling or thought lingers, find someone to talk about it with.
- Get outside for fresh air, sunshine and being in nature throughout the year
- Spend quality time with people who make you feel accepted and supported
- Practice deep breathing
- Practice mindfulness
- Make time for play
- Eat a colorful diet containing all the food groups
- Exercise regularly
How Talking Helps:
It’s good to talk about feelings – both good and bad. When kids grow up hearing that parents can feel discouraged or worried at times, it may help them understand that life comes with a wide range of emotions. It makes it less likely that children will bottle up their feelings.
How Playtime Helps:
One of the most important aspects of a child’s health is play – it’s the “work” of childhood. Play and movement are essential to a developing and learning brain, help teach social skills, and promote resiliency. Even in the winter, there are plenty of ways to help kids stay active.
Ask Questions, Find Support!
Sometimes parents feel unsure about their child’s mental health. They might wonder, “Is this just a stage or something more?” Some questions to consider as you think about your child’s mental health include:
- Has your child experienced a sudden, unexplained, negative change in behavior?
- Are your child’s worries or hyperactive impulses significantly out of proportion to others the same developmental age and gender?
- Are there unexplained changes in appetite, weight, sleep or other physical symptoms?
- Does your child experience intense emotions that disrupt regular functioning?
- Has your child experienced an event that they considered to be traumatic?
Ultimately, if you are unsure about these questions, consulting with a mental health professional is the best option. It’s the same as getting help from a family medical provider when your child has a physical health concern.
If you’d like to learn more about Mental Health at ChildServe, call 515-727-8750.
ChildServe improves the health and well-being of 4,600 children each year through specialized clinical, home, and community-based programs and services. We serve children with developmental delays, disabilities, injuries, and other special healthcare needs.