Don’t forget it’s not only adults who have to cope with stress, worry and anxiety. February marks Children’s Mental Health Week (7th – 13th February 2022), a week which shines a spotlight on the importance of children and young people’s mental health.
If you’re a parent and have concerns about your child’s mental health, here are some tactics to help and support them. Start a conversation. Talking to a child or young person about how they are feeling can be hard, but by taking 20 minutes to do an activity you both enjoy, you can create time and space when they feel relaxed and connected to you. This will encourage them to open up. Sending an email or a text can work better if this is the way your child likes to communicate. Normalise talking about feelings and remind them that a thought is not necessarily a fact.
Stay involved in their life.
Take an interest in their life, what’s going on with them and the things that are important to them. It not only helps them value who they are, but also makes it easier for you to spot problems and support them.
Encourage their hobbies.
Being active or creative, learning new things and being a part of a team can help build confidence and help a child to connect with others. Encourage their hobbies and try to do it with them – this might be running, walking, listening to music, painting, drawing, writing in a journal, watching a favourite film or reading a favourite book. The important thing is that you show you are keen to do something with them that they have shown an interest in.
Listen and take what they have to say seriously.
Showing children that you are listening, and value what they say (without judgement) is paramount. Helping them to look at problem solving and alternative approaches teaches them excellent tools and coping strategies for the future. Don’t forget to ask your child what they think would help – they often have good ideas about solving their own problems.
And if you need some extra help, don’t be afraid to reach out…
Young Minds provides advice about mental health and behaviour problems in children and young people up to the age of 25. You can call the Parents’ and Carers’ Helpline on 0808 802 5544. Please be aware Young Minds do not provide any direct psychological services and cannot make referrals to the NHS or Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services (CYPMHS).
Shout provides free, confidential support, 24/7 via text for anyone at crisis anytime, anywhere. You can text SHOUT to 85258 in the UK to text with a trained Crisis Volunteer.
ChildLine provides a helpline for any child with a problem. It comforts, advises and protects. You can call 0800 1111 any time for free, have an online chat with a counsellor or check out the message boards.
The Mix provides a free confidential helpline and online service that aims to find young people the best help, whatever the problem. You can call 0808 808 4994 for free or access their online community.