Children's Mental Health Week (5th-11th February)
Mental Health can affect anyone of any age, from any background. It is not limited to teens and adults and it does not only affect people who have had a negative upbringing or who have experienced a traumatic event. Mental health problems are illnesses.
This is important for people to know and understand.
There is a huge amount of stigma surrounding mental health as people have grown up with little to no understanding of it! Therefore, it is important to teach children from a young age about feelings, emotions and mental health. This helps them to understand what mental health conditions are and also lets them know that it is okay to talk about their thoughts and their feelings. It is important that teachers and early years practitioners are trained to some extent in mental health so that they are able to spot any early warning signs and symptoms in the children under their care. It would also be helpful for parents to read up about mental health and possibly attend a support group in order to build up their own knowledge about mental health and the signs and symptoms in both adults and children. These simple things can help to make a huge difference, as early intervention can have a great impact on the development of mental health issues, decreasing the number of children who grow up to suffer from a mental health condition.
Children are very vulnerable, and if they do not understand the feelings that they are experiencing and they do not feel able to talk about them with another person, it can have a very negative impact on them later in life. Therefore attachments are vital. It is important that children have a secure attachment with a parent, sibling or a teacher so that they can talk to them about anything, and have a 'safe base' to turn to in times of need. Schools need to work hard when teaching children about feelings, talking about what feelings occur when faced with various situations and when do certain feelings become a problem.
If we can raise the next generation to be aware of mental health conditions, feelings, thoughts and behaviours, then each year we become a step closer to eliminating stigma around mental health.
Children need to know that talking about their feelings, no matter their gender, age or background, is okay! They need to know that feelings are natural and that they are nothing to be ashamed of and they need to grow up with an understanding of mental health as well as physical health.
Children's Mental Health Week sees various charities and organisations working hard and coming together to raise awareness and understanding in both adults and children about the importance of mental health. They will talk in schools, workplaces and local communities about mental health, the early signs and symptoms, any triggers that may help in the process of mental health and much more. It is important that we as a community get behind them and support them.
Mental health is just as serious as physical health and it affects 1 in 10 children in the UK alone. Children (as well as adults) need support and guidance. People need to be aware that mental health can affect all ages, and they need to recognise when a child is going through 'a phase' and when something more serious is happening.
Here are some useful resources about children and mental health:
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