Carroll Dragon's Breath
JANUARY - MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLNESS
WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH?
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps influence how we relate to others, make choices and handle stress. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from pre-school though adulthood. It can move on a continuum from well being to mental illness. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. (MentalHealth.gov)
Just as a parent can help prevent a child from getting a cold, or protect them from injury, they can also help prevent mental health issues. Many people are aware of how to stay physically healthy - nutritious food, physical activity, immunizations, etc - but the basics of mental health and wellness aren't always as clear. A child's mental health, just like their physical health, needs to be given thought and consideration. Mental Health matters.
HOW DO I PROMOTE MENTAL HEALTH WELLNESS?
One of the best ways to promote a child's mental wellness is to build up their strengths, while helping to protect them from risks and helping them to develop coping skills to succeed in life. Parents and caregivers can help build a child's self esteem by building a safe, caring, respectful and trusting relationship that offers opportunities for encouragement and praise, while setting consistent and fair expectations.
Often times a barrier to promoting mental wellness is our own perception. We can begin to change the way we view mental heath and help change the stigma associated with mental illness by awareness.
HEALTHY HABITS OF EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING
1. Take care - eat well, stay well, sleep well
2. Check in - with family, friends, counselors
3. Engage - you can't be healthy emotionally if you are not in healthy relationships
4. Relax - be active, mediate, read, dance, love...
5. Know - educate yourself on the signs of mental suffering
KNOW THE SIGNS OF MENTAL SUFFERING
Did you know that one in ten young people may have a mental health problem at any given time? But unfortunately, of those, only one in five will get help through mental health services. And without help, these problems can lead to bigger problems: poor school performance; conflicts with friends, peers or family; and sometimes even substance-abuse problems. Remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical health!
So, pay attention to the "Warning Signs." Someone who is currently going through a mental health problem may be . . .
Troubled by feeling:
- really sad and hopeless without good reason, and the feelings don’t go away;
- extremely fearful – has unexplained fears or more fears than most children;
- angry most of the time, overreacts to things;
- anxious or worried a lot more than other kids your own age.
- poor concentration;
- difficulty making decisions, sitting still or focusing;
- need to perform certain routines dozens of times a day;
- regular nightmares.
Experiencing big changes:
- does much worse in school;
- loses interest in things usually enjoyed;
- avoids friends and family;
- talks about suicide;
- hears voices that cannot be explained;
- has changes in sleeping or eating patterns.
Behaving in ways that cause problems:
- uses alcohol or other drugs;
- does things that can be life threatening;
- hurts other people;
- destroys property or breaks the law.
Excerpted from : http://schoolmentalhealth.org/
WHAT PARENTS CAN DO
- Care for your children’s mental health just as you do for their physical health.
- Pay attention to warning signs, and if you’re concerned there might be a problem seek professional help.
- Let your children know that everyone experiences pain, fear, sadness, worry, and anger and that these emotions are a normal part of life; encourage them to talk about their concerns and to express their emotions.
- Be a role model—talk about your own feelings, apologize, don’t express anger with violence, and use active problem-solving skills.
- Encourage your children’s talents and skills, while also accepting their limitations. Celebrate your children’s accomplishments.
- Give your children opportunities to learn and grow, including being involved in their school and community and with other caring adults and friends.
- Think of “discipline” as a form of teaching, rather than as physical punishment; set clear expectations and be consistent and fair with consequences for misbehavior; make sure to acknowledge both positive and negative behaviors.
- Education. It is beneficial for parents to understand what social media is being used for by their preteen and how. Being educated in how they use it will help parents understand the risks involved.
- Communication. Parents should have frequent conversations with their children about the safety of social media, how much personal information should and shouldn’t be shared and about cyberbullying. Studies show that teenagers who had their parents talk to them often, engaged in less risky behaviors.
- Monitor time. Enforce rules to limit excessive use of social media. Examples of limiting time may include no phones at the table, no phone in car rides during errands or turning off WiFi at bedtime.
- Healthy attitudes. To minimize social comparison and envy, parents and children should talk about the distorted views of friends’ lives that are presented on social media.