Children's Mental Health | People Plus

Children’s Mental Health

The Mental Health foundation states that 1 in 10 children and young people are affected by mental health problems. A staggering 70% have not had the appropriate intervention at a sufficient early age. Children’s mental health is just as important as their physical health, as mental ill health can impact their development, functioning, relationships and many other aspects of their daily lives.

A key part of their lives which can heavily impact their mental health is their relationships, especially through a child and parent/guardian dynamic; these relationships need to be nurtured and valued so children feel comfortable and that they can open up. A flourishing parent-child relationship allows children to be themselves, feel supported, feel loved and helps them deal better with the many changes and experiences they go through during childhood.

Having a strong relationship is important when children need to talk about their experiences, especially ones that might negatively impact their mental health. A poor relationship and connection with your child can mean less willingness to discuss their fears and/or vulnerabilities. The truth is there are many things that can impact children’s mental health just like there are with adults, but the support from family members, not just parents can be more important than most as it is something we can mostly control.

We don’t need to be psychologists or researchers to understand children learn from parents and family members and value those relationships (for those that are psychologists and researchers I do feel inclined to mention the works of people such as Klein, Bowlby and Ainsworth). The bottom line is children thrive off relationships with their loved ones and need them to help their mental wellbeing, if there is any person or group of people they should be able to open up to, it’s their parents/guardians and family members.

How do we help children’s mental wellbeing?

  • Communication- Talking and open communication with children can help grow relationships, it makes it easier for them to be open with you and can make tougher discussions easier to deal with. Talk to them about mental health (use age-appropriate information)
  • Pay attention- Pay attention to things such as their behaviour, schoolwork, mood and attitude. Changes in these things can sometimes be a sign of distress or their mind being pre-occupied or worried about something. If you communicate and pay attention this can be easier to spot and talk about.
  • It’s not just about parents- People with younger children in their families can be just as important in helping children’s mental health. There can often be times when children may feel easier disclosing something to a sibling/other family member rather than a parent if they are close to them, this could be because the relationship feels less authoritarian and there isn’t a fear of getting in trouble or not being taken as seriously.

By Ruhel Ahmed – Health and Wellbeing Adviser at PeoplePlus

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