As we watch the country’s suicide rate increase, concerns about our children's mental health is an issue for many people who are concerned with their welfare. Every 12 minutes, an American dies by suicide and people who have mental illness as adults,(according to research by the world Health Organization) 50 percent of mental illnesses that occur in a lifetime begin by age 14.
Good mental health allows children to think clearly, develop socially and learn new skills. Additionally, good friends and encouraging words from adults are all important for helping children develop self confidence, high self-esteem, and a healthy emotional outlook on life.
This is a nation that promotes itself with the “We the People form of government” and a place where everyone wants to be. And yet, we are allowing our citizens to smother with depression and other forms of mental illness and we stigmatize those who step forward to seek help.
All children and youth have the right to happy and healthy lives and deserve access to effective care to prevent or treat any mental health problems they may develop. In order to live life to its full potential, our children need to have good mental health. That suggests we the people need to do what is best for them and the people around them.
There are so many factors that can effect a child's mental health. Providing children with an environment that demonstrates love, compassion, trust, and understanding will greatly impact a child so that they can acquire skills to be productive citizens. Children who have to deal with a abuse, neglect, resentment, hatred, distrust, and constant negativity may have few cognitive and emotional reserves to build the coping skills needed navigate through life. These children tend to dislike themselves, have negative feelings, perform poorly in school, and later become involved in unhealthy lifestyles. Some children are born with mental health issues. Here, nature rather than nurture dealt a bum hand. However, if left untreated these children will likely to grow up bringing their difficulties whatever kind of life they attempt to make for themselves and their families.
But these are solvable problems. When children are properly treated they can learn how to live a more productive life. They can overcome many of the issues that affect them. They can live happy lives that are filled with love, harmony, and a good mental health.
The good news is that mental health disorders are treatable.
There are many different approaches to helping children struggling with emotional or mental health problems. Mental Health Professionals have many programs and formats they can offer families and their children. Many programs have been developed to help schools enhance students' health and reduce the prevalence of drug use, violence, and high risk sexual behaviors. They include Individual and family therapy or counseling, play therapy, peer-assisted learning programs aimed at improving reading, math, and science, parent education, school based strategies for teachers for effective classroom management, community based violence prevention programs administered through community recreational centers to name just a few.
Psychologists have developed tools to assess the risk and protective factors for the mental health of children, to test them for behavioral or emotional problems, and to continually monitor treatment progress. Psychologists have also designed programs that effectively engage families, schools and communities, that is, the critical social supports that can guarantee lasting well-being for children.
Getting help early is important. It can prevent problems from becoming more serious, and can lessen the effect they have on the child’s development.
Unfortunately, too many children don’t get help. Mental health disorders can prevent children from succeeding in school, from making friends or becoming independent adults.
Mental health affects the way people think, feel and act. We all can promote good mental health by the things we say and do, and through the environments we create in our homes and in the community.
What’s a Person To Do?
1. Create a safe, positive home environment.
2. Show lots of love and acceptance.
3. Applaud children when they do well. Recognize their efforts when they are struggling.
4. Help children build strong, caring relationships with family and friends by spending time with them. Family meals help.
5. Show children how to solve problems that arise. Work with them until they get it.
6. Ask questions about their activities and interests. Listen and respect his or her feelings. Monitor their screen time. That includes the content and the time spent.
7. Learn the early signs of mental health problems and know where to go for help. Just Google it.
8. Get the child a mental health professional to talk to if she or he doesn’t feel comfortable talking to you.
9. Put some fun in the life of your family.
(C) Rachell N. Anderson, Psy. D. June 17, 2018