It’s a subject that’s close to many people’s hearts, and a lot has been done in recent years to raise awareness around mental health in children. The 4th – 10th of February marks Children’s Mental Health Week, which this year celebrates its 5th year. It’s an important topic to be aware of, and the more conversation that takes place around it, the better the care that can be offered to children who suffer silently each year.
About Children’s Mental Health Week
Children’s Mental Health Week is an annual campaign, launched by Place2Be that aims to spark a conversation around children and mental health and help improve the support provided to children and young people suffering from mental health issues.
Place2Be is a charity that specialises in providing school-based support to children, by educating teachers, parents, etc. to help reach as many young people as possible.
The campaign is now in its fifth year and provides an opportunity for everyone to get involved in spreading awareness about mental health in children.
Healthy: Inside and Out
The theme of this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is ‘Healthy: Inside and Out’. While a lot of focus is given to looking after our physical health, it’s also important to focus on our mental health, ensuring health and wellness both inside and out. The week will look at educating children, families, teachers, etc. about how we can feel better in ourselves, and better cope with the difficulties we might face.
Improving children’s mental health
As people become more aware of children’s mental health, the good news is that people are taking note. The UK Government has launched a report on improving mental health in children, while adults are becoming more aware of what to look out for and how to help children with their mental health.
You can take steps to improve children’s mental health by keeping an eye out for the warning signs that could indicate a problem. Being aware of the support that’s available and helping young children get the care they need is important. Meanwhile, some of the things you can do at home include:
- Show effective behaviours by taking care of your own mental health. Finding ways to manage stress, discussing your feelings, etc. can encourage the same behaviours in children that can help them develop mechanisms of their own.
- Help them live a healthy lifestyle. By eating well and exercising regularly, you’re helping your family to take care of their physical health, which can have a significant impact on their mental health. By making an effort to be healthy as a family, you can encourage healthy behaviours that they can take with them into adulthood.
- Give them a creative outlet. Being creative can help children to express themselves, encourage feelings of achievement and positivity as well as giving them an interest that they can enjoy. From music to art and sport, there are lots of different hobbies and activities that you can help your child to discover.
- Encourage open and honest conversations. Getting your kids to talk and share their feelings can help them to discuss any problems they might be facing, allowing you to support and intervene where necessary. Daily rituals like talking about your day at the dinner table is a good way to encourage open conversation, making it a normal part of family life.
- Make sure they get enough sleep. A lack of sleep can have several effects on mental health. Make sure your children get the sleep they need and tackle any issues they might have early to stop them from becoming more serious problems.
If you’re concerned about your child’s mental health, consult your GP as soon as possible to make sure your child gets the support they need. You can also make the most of your local out of hours services for issues experienced in the evenings or weekends, so make sure you call 111 if needed to direct you to the help you need.