May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health refers to our feelings, our emotions our thinking and our moods. As parents it’s important to understand that mental health is not simply the absence of a mental disorder, but that it is a state of well-being. A healthy parent-child relationship has a great impact on a child’s mental health, so firstly, always look for opportunities to develop and maintain a strong relationship with your child and presence in their lives. You are likely their most consistent role model.
According to the CDC, “Being mentally healthy during childhood means reaching developmental and emotional milestones and learning healthy social skills and how to cope when there are problems. Mentally healthy children have a positive quality of life and can function well at home, in school, and in their communities.”
Children, all over the world, have been through a lot in the last few years. Many of them have had to cope with great change, great loss, and had to make many shifts. With this, many emotions have come, and it’s important that we give our children a safe space to feel these emotions and to work through them.
A mentally healthy child doesn’t mean that they will always be happy. With the increase is social media, it’s important to highlight to our children you can’t tell what someone feels like by what they share online. Children gain the mistaken belief that if they aren’t always feeling positive emotions, that something is wrong with them. Take the opportunity to explain to them that just like physical health, we all have mental health. Feeling angry, stressed and down is part of life, just like it’s normal to feel happy, confident, excited, and care-free. Good mental health is about experiencing both types of feelings.
Here are my top 5 tips to help navigate mental health with your children.
For Age specific recommendations on supporting Mental Health and Welbing of your children, visit UNICEF parents.
Yolande Robinson, M.Ed.