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Children and Mental Health: What can parents and educators do?

Updated: May 27, 2019

It’s May which means it’s Mental Health Awareness month and Children’s Mental Health Week. In recent years mental health has become a major concern in education, and with good reason. Research shows that up to 20% of people will suffer from some form of mental illness in their lifetime. Youth are faced with increasing rates of depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns. Are you a parent or educator and want to get more information on supporting good mental health? Here’s 3 quick ways to get started on your Mental Health Literacy journey:

1. Understand that Mental Health and Mental Illness are not the same.

Both Mental Health and Mental Illness can be thought of along continuums that intersect (see image below). This means that someone with a Mental Illness may have good Mental Health and that someone with poor Mental Health may not have a Mental Illness. Regardless, we want all our children to not just survive, but thrive and flourish!

(Adapted from Keyes, 2002 by Enns et al., 2016)

2. Teach kids about Mental Health.

The more students, parent and educators are aware of what good mental health looks like, the more we improve Mental Health Literacy (yes that’s a thing!) which helps decrease stigma and increase access to supports. Having an open dialogue about emotions, feelings and thoughts, and knowing that there are supports to utilize, no matter where you fall on the Mental Health continuum, are all important steps in promoting Mental Health Literacy among our youth. Check out the ABC’s of Mental Health for more information for parents and educators.

3. Model good Mental Health for our youth.

We all have good days and bad days - but what do you, as a parent or educator, do to support your own Mental Health? Start with the basics of eating, sleeping, hydrating and moving. But also consider the power of connecting with others, making time for yourself, and reflecting on what’s important to you. Whatever you do to promote good Mental Health for yourself should be made visible to our youth. Normalizing the Mental Health continuum, including the supports and strategies we use to maintain our good Mental Health promotes Mental Health Literacy through open dialogue for all.

If you’re interested in building a moment of mindfulness in your day check out the following YouTube links with guided practice:

If you want to find out more ways to improve your Mental Health Literacy, get in touch!

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