Is Your Child Struggling with Mental Health Issues?

Is Your Child Struggling with Mental Health Issues?

Is Your Child Struggling with Mental Health Issues?

Lee esto en EspañolChildren have a lot on their minds. They’re always learning new things and facing challenges they’ve never handled before, especially over the past year. And the pandemic has made things even harder for many kids.

Now they struggle with changes to their routines. They miss out on some of the social connections they’ve enjoyed with school and sports. They can’t always spend time with their friends in the same ways.

That means they may need more support or help with mental health issues. You know your child best. You can support them now and in the future by showing them ways to build good mental health.

What Is Mental Health?

Good mental health is an important part of total health. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being, says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.   Our mental health affects how we think and feel. It determines how we act. It also influences how we handle stress and make choices. Mental health is vital at each stage of life, from childhood and teen years through adulthood.

Many children have fears and worries and may show disruptive behaviors. But if the signs are serious and persistent, share your concerns with your child’s doctor, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Common Concerns

Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are common issues for children. They may show up as fear, worry or sadness. Some children may be angry or grouchy.

These issues can also rob children of good sleep and bring on headaches or stomach aches. Often children won’t share their worries, so some signs are easy to miss.

Mental Health America offers a list of some of the changes in behavior to look for:

  • Dips in grades, even when they are trying hard
  • Repeated refusal to do schoolwork or go to school
  • Avoiding normal activities
  • Fidgeting
  • Frequent nightmares
  • Persistent disobedience or tantrums
  • Sadness

Loneliness
Many young adults are lonely, according to a new report from Making Caring Common,   a project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Loneliness also appears to have climbed since the outbreak of the global pandemic. Those 18 to 25 reported that they felt lonely “frequently,” “almost all the time” or “all the time” in the past month.

How to Cope

Let children know it’s just as important to take care of their mental health as it is to take care of physical health. Encourage them to share their feelings. Make sure they know it’s OK to reach out if they’re sad or worried.

Learning to identify and manage self-defeating thoughts can be one way to cope. It’s also helpful to find new ways to build social relationships. That can help with anxiety, depression and loneliness. Committing to help others is another avenue to fight loneliness.

Tips for Building Resilience

Learning ways to process and release emotions is a key skill to learn. These are other habits that will help the whole family’s mental and emotional resilience:

  • Make home a safe haven
  • Keep up physical health
  • Stay in the present
  • Don’t assume the worst
  • Look for joy
  • Find a purpose
  • Help others
  • Find things you can do now
  • Strengthen relationships

If self-care steps don’t make a difference, talk with your child’s doctor. They may be able to help or suggest a qualified therapist, counselor or psychologist.

The Link Between Nutrition and Mental Health

What they’re eating, or not eating, may be affecting your family’s mental health. Research shows that nutrition can play a vital role in regulating our mental and emotional health. Learn more.

Sources: What Is Children’s Mental Health,   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2021; Anxiety and Depression in Children,   CDC, 2020; What Is Mental Health?,   U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2020; Raising kids who care about others and the common good,   Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2021; How to Help Children Build Resilience in Uncertain Times,   American Academy of Pediatrics, 2020; Recognizing Mental Health Problems in Children,   Mental Health America
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