Children’s Mental Health Week
Raising awareness of children’s mental health
This week (6th- 12th February) marks Children’s Mental Health Week, a time to raise awareness of the importance of children and young people’s mental health. This year’s theme is ‘Let’s Connect’– encouraging people to connect with others in healthy, rewarding, and meaningful ways. Healthy connections with friends and family members can support our mental health and sense of wellbeing. When our need for social connections isn’t met, it can cause us to feel lonely and isolated which can have a poor impact on our mental health. The mental health charity Place2Be shares useful advice for parents to connect with their child and help them to make meaningful connections:
- Connect with your child in everyday ways
Moments of connection (and re-connection) are really important in child-caregiver relationships. For example, when you pick them up from school, or come in from work, try to give them your full attention and see if this helps you feel better connected as you hug, talk, smile and hear about their day. Watching your child play and joining in is really important to them – so put your phone away and have a bit of fun – being playful is good for adults, too! With your older child, you may find times such as car journeys a good time to talk, or to reconnect by playing music you both like. It is important to be accessible to a teenager when they need to talk. You may have to be there ‘on their terms’ and be ready to listen.
- Talk to your child about important connections
This could include talking about family members, friends, neighbours, childminders, people in the local community and others in your faith group (if you have one). Remember it’s ok to talk about people they miss, for example, family members who live in a different country or people who have died. Children learn a lot from their parents about how to express their feelings, including the joy that comes with feeling connected to others and the sadness that comes with missing others.
- Talk to your child about their friends
As children become teenagers, their friendship groups become increasingly important to them. Be open to hearing about their friendships and try to listen without judgement. Ask them about their life in real life and online. You may not think online friends are ‘real friends’, but your child may feel differently. Losing friends, feeling left out or being bullied is very painful and your child needs to know you will support them through these difficult times.
For more information, support, and activities about Children’s Mental Health Week, please visit the Place2Be website.