Supporting Mental Health at Home

Developing healthy coping strategies is not an innate ability and as children continue to grow, there are some ways parents and caregivers can assist in helping them obtain good mental health habits.

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Talk openly about mental health

There is still a stigma surrounding mental illness which discourages people from talking about any mental health challenges they may be facing. When we talk openly about mental health, you are promoting a safe environment that will encourage youth to seek support and help when it is needed.

Model your own healthy habits

Children learn by observing. When adults use positive coping strategies to manage life’s stressors, youth are more inclined to develop and use their own strategies.

Spend time together as a family
Children need love, time and attention. Setting time aside to be with your child produces a stronger bond, making them feel valued and loved. Invite them to join you in an activity you enjoy to reduce stress. Incorporate these activities into your family’s weekly routine and acknowledge their mental health benefits.
Participate in community or volunteer activities
Children will meet and connect with new people. They will experience a sense of belonging and purpose, and will learn how to relate to others.
Encourage regular exercise
Children and adolescents need at least 1 hour of daily physical exercise to promote health development, and exercise is one of the most effective strategies for maintaining a healthy mind. Exercising stimulates chemicals that improve our moods and allow us to channel negative energy positively.
Praise your child’s efforts and behavior
When we are praised on something we did, we feel good about ourselves, and our confidence and self-esteem increases. Praise also helps to motivate kids and encourage them to continue to try new things.
Create calm spaces
When we are fatigued and stressed, or we are struggling with mental health problems, our brains process environmental cues (lights, sounds, etc.) differently. Create a comfortable space and minimize clutter in your home to promote a positive mood and minimize overstimulation.

Talking to Youth About Mental Health

In our culture, there is stigma and misinformation surrounding mental health that can create a reluctance for individuals to talk openly and/or seek support about issues or challenges they may experience. Youth may internalize these messages, and as caregivers, it is our responsibility to help them understand there is hope and that recovery is possible. To learn more about how you can support your child, visit the Mental Health America website and Mental Health First Aid website.

Social Media and Suicide

In response to recent concerns about disturbing images of suicide and self-injury on social media, the American Association of Suicidology, in partnership with pediatricians and subject matter experts, has released a tipsheet for parents, caregivers and behavioral health providers, entitled Social Media and Suicide: A Tipsheet for Parents and Providers. This  resource provides adults information about how to educate themselves about current social media trends and how to have conversations with youth on this issue. It also includes tools parents/guardians can use to monitor and control social media viewing through cell phone control options, computer hardware and internet filters.

What is Negativity Bias?

Why does my child focus more on the negative things than positive things? Why is he/she self-critical? What can I do to help?…  As parents and caregivers, it’s heartbreaking to hear our children be so hard on themselves but it is actually a natural part of our evolutionary process and there are ways you can help. Learn more about negativity bias (hint: it’s a survival skill) and how you can support your child our own negative thoughts.

Back to School Resources

The 2021-2022 school year will be unlike anything we’ve ever experienced.  Following the confusion and uncertainty of in-person versus virtual classes and the anticipated lapses in learning, teachers, parents and students are coming into this new year with unprecedented levels of anxiety and worry.  Those fears go beyond learning and academics.  Concerns about health and safety are at the forefront of most people’s minds.  During the pandemic, our collective attention has been drawn to the importance of mental health, wellness and connectedness.  When we talk about health and safety, we must include mental health and psychological safety.

Students want to talk about their mental health, social connections and experiences during the past 18 months but sometimes those conversations are difficult to start.  As a featured resource, we have created Mental Health Conversation Starters that can be used by school staff, parents and caregivers alike to open up a dialogue to foster better mental health and wellness.  Additional back-to-school resources are found below including information on trauma-informed practices, wellness tools and activities as well as curriculum development materials.  

Mental Health Conversation Starters

According to a 4-H survey, roughly 80% of teens want more open, honest and safe conversations about mental health. One way to reduce the stigma associated with mental health struggles is by engaging in appropriate and compassionate conversation. Many adults, however, worry about what to say, how to say it and ways to support our students.

Mental Health Conversation Starters contains examples of ways to begin a conversation with someone that you’re concerned about.  These can be helpful for school staff, parents or caregivers for use with children of any age. 

Salud Mental Temas de Conversación

Para ayudar a los padres, a los cuidadores y al personal escolar a iniciar una conversación sobre el bienestar emocional de los estudiantes, el Centro de Recursos y Capacitación en Salud Mental Escolar ha creado Temas de Conversación de Salud Mental. Estas herramientas proporcionan sugerencias para una variedad de situaciones o preocupaciones, así como consejos sobre cómo discutir buenos hábitos de salud mental en los estudiantes y cómo crear un entorno seguro, afectuoso y apropiado para la edad para llevar a cabo la conversación y el diálogo continuo co n niños y jóvenes.

Explore Mental Health Topics A to Z
A to Z Topic Guide

Concerned about a child’s behavior?  Wondering how you can help a student? Unsure of where to go for additional support?  Check out our newly revised and expanded A to Z Topic Guide for tips, strategies and resources addressing a wide variety of mental health and wellness topics. 

Utilize Trauma-Informed Resources

One of the most impactful ways schools can address the mental health impacts of the pandemic is to implement or expand upon trauma-informed practices at the school and district-wide level.  Research indicates that children who experience Adverse Childhood Experience (ACEs) are more likely to have negative health outcomes in later life. Additionally, children whose mental health challenges are unmet are at higher risk for self-harm, suicide and serious mental illness in adulthood.

Addressing the impacts of trauma not only helps our children’s future, but the health and wellness of entire communities.

Read Current Issue of Healthy Young Minds

A newsletter dedicated to high school aged youth to help promote understanding and encourage discussion of mental health issues among teachers, students and parents.

View here.

Take a Training. We offer self-paced, live, and recorded sessions

To help schools prepare for the coming year, we are offering a variety of professional learning opportunities, covering topics such as mental health and wellness, trauma-informed schools, supporting staff wellness, and strategies to promote youth mental health. Contact us to discuss how we can best meet your training needs.

Back to School 2021: Video Series for New Yorkers from the Office of Mental Health

The Office of Mental Health has released a series of videos to address concerns from students and families about going back to school while still facing the challenges of COVID-19. Please watch, share and check out the list of resources compiled in the video descriptions to support the mental wellness of children and families across NY. 

View here.

Visit our Virtual Wellness Room

Need a break? Looking for ideas for self-care? Visit our Virtual Wellness Room for youth and adults.

Discover Tools and Activities to Support Mental Health

Find tools and activities to support the mental health of students, families, and staff. While some factors that create mental health problems cannot easily be changed or eliminated, we can maintain mental health and wellness by building our “toolbox” of wellness strategies. Our staff has found or created some fun ideas and activities.

In addition, stress sometimes comes from worry about things outside of our control and our inability to focus on the “moment”. Apps are a great tool for practicing mindfulness and to become more self-aware of our emotions and accompanying response. Incorporate the use of apps into daily routine or classroom assignments to help students focus on the present moment and manage stress.

Engage Families with Mental Health Education Trainings and Resources

We have compiled family and caregiver mental health resources that can be easily shared with your community via social media, emails or through a link on your website.  Resources include our 30-minute psychoeducational webinars for families and caregivers which include: understanding mental health and wellness, coping with a crisis, understanding trauma, and incorporating mindfulness practices in the home. Visit the links below for more information.

Share NYS Community Resources

Looking for community resources? We have what you need! Many families are needing support now more than ever. We’ve compiled a list of searchable databases to help you locate resources more easily.

Mental Health Association in
New York State, Inc.
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Albany, NY 12210

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