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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.