For Mental Health Awareness Month this year, we’re joining the mission to let everyone, especially young people, know that they are not alone.
“10% of children and young people (aged 5-16) have a clinically diagnosable mental problem, yet 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.” (mentalhealth.org.uk)
Being a parent, guardian or teacher of a young person who is struggling with their mental health can be very worrying, and you may be feeling unsure of how you can help. Remember, you are not alone, and there is help for both your young person and you.
Even though mental health problems are very common and can affect all of us in different way, there is still a stigma that can lead to discrimination, prejudice and stereotypes forming.
Thoughts and feelings can be hard to make sense of, and your young person may have new ones that they don’t understand. They may be reluctant and have difficulty talking about how they are feeling due to fears that other people will find out. Unfortunately, this results in them suffering in silence. You can help by making sure you encourage openness and reassure them that you are a safe space for them to talk.
It is essential to be mindful of listening when they are opening up to you. Sometimes as a parent or guardian, you can feel angry that your child is not opening up to you about what they are feeling and thinking. However, the most helpful thing you can do is keep calm, let them know you are hearing them out and empathise with them. This can help them feel understood, encouraged and acknowledged.
When children and young people are experiencing a mental health problem, you will very likely notice changes in their sleep and appetite patterns. To help with this, encouraging them gently to eat regular healthy meals, take part in light physical exercise and develop a self-care night routine.
Be mindful that difficulties with mental health can impact their physical energy levels and motivation, so building in activities they enjoy doing and creating a new routine will be big help.
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