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Mental Health Matters: Building Strong Foundations in Kids

Mental Health Matters: Building Strong Foundations in Kids

By Rhenelle Mc Sween-Navarro, Community Health Program Specialist

A young girl and talking an older adultThe physical well-being of children has always been given priority, but one extremely important factor that is often overlooked is mental well-being. Mental health in the world’s youth population is often forgotten, or it is thought that children do not suffer from adverse mental health issues as adults do. There are many contributing factors to a child’s mental health, so early detection and intervention is vital in reducing the effects that each child experiences.

Understanding Mental Health in Kids

Mental health in children refers to their emotional, psychological, and social well-being. A study done by the University of Michigan shows that 1 in 6 youth/adolescents will experience a mental health condition at any given time. Although there can be a biological component that contributes to mental health conditions in kids, adverse events can put them at risk of developing mental health issues. Just like adults, kids can experience anxiety, depression, and attention disorders.

Knowing the Signs

An article written by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states seven signs to look for:

  1. Disruptions in Daily Interactions and Relationships
  2. Excessive Anxiety
  3. Depression
  4. Substance Use
  5. Changes in School Performance
  6. Acute or Prolonged Stress
  7. Difficulties Adjusting

What Can Parents Do?

Pay Attention:  Look out for any of the above warning signs. Even if you see something you are unsure of, still check in with your child to see if they are okay.

Prioritize:  As much as your child’s physical health as a priority, ensure that your child’s mental health holds the same level of priority as well.

Create a Safe Space:  Ensure that the environment created at home provides a safe space where your child feels comfortable coming to you about any stresses that they are experiencing.

Encourage:  Celebrate your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Help them feel comfortable with themselves in every way possible.

Seek Help:  When a warning sign is noticed, get professional help. HealthyKids.org has a database of providers here in Florida that can assist when your child is in need. Click here for more information.

Resources Available

Healthy Kids at Home: This program provides social-emotional themed curriculum that includes topics such as friendship, bravery, and confidence.

NAMI Basics: NAMI Basics is a free 6-session education program for parents, caregivers and other family members who provide care for youth (ages 22 and younger) who are experiencing mental health symptoms.

Mindfulness for Teens: This website helps teens live more mindfully by providing videos, meditation sessions, and articles that serve as a guide to managing stress and living life to the fullest.

As parents and caregivers, it is our responsibility to prioritize the mental health of our children. By fostering open communication, providing a nurturing environment, and seeking professional help when needed, we can ensure that our kids grow up emotionally resilient and equipped to face life’s challenges. Remember, mental health in kids matters, and by addressing it proactively, we empower them to thrive.