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Children’s Mental Health: Promoting Resiliency and Fostering Mental Health

     

mental-health-awareness-day

The theme of this year’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, which is being observed today, is “Finding Help, Finding Hope.” The goal is to focus attention on how to increase access to services for adolescents who experience mental health and substance use disorders.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 percent of children 8 to 15 years old had a diagnosable mental disorder in the past year and half of mental illnesses begin by age 14. The most common disorders among children and adolescents are ADHD, depression, anxiety and conduct disorder.

Promoting resilience in children and adolescents can contribute to better mental health. Resilience is the capacity to face and overcome adversity, to bounce back from difficulties or challenges, to cope and adapt to change.

A child’s resilience is influenced by both individual or internal factors, such as self-esteem and an understanding of personal strengths and limitations, and external factors, such as access to supportive family and friends and a positive school experience. Families and communities can actively support and enhance children’s resiliency. Research has found that early intervention and prevention efforts that foster supportive child-adult relationships, positive self-concept and self-control in young children help support their mental health and their resilience to adversity.

Characteristics of resilient children include heightened sensory awareness; high positive expectations; understanding of their own strengths relating to accomplishment; and a heightened, developing sense of humor. All children will experience stress or trauma at some point to some degree, so what can we do to help prepare them to cope with and handle adversity?

Here are a few ways parents and families can foster resilience in children:

  • Encourage children’s participation in family and community activities to foster a sense of belonging and responsibility
  • Provide structure and predictability; have a few simple rules and stick to them as much as possible
  • Help your child learn problem-solving skills
  • Model empathy, caring and optimism and encourage these in your child
  • Help your child make connections and build friendships
  • Model good self-care practices – exercise, nutrition, sleep
  • Hold high (but realistic) expectations to help children see themselves as capable
  • Help your child learn to set goals; praise accomplishments
  • Involve your child in helping others
  • Provide social support from other adults, such as grandparents
  • Help your child to learn from mistakes or disappointments
  • Encourage your child to participate in after school or community clubs, groups or activities
  • Communicate with and work collaboratively with teachers to support your child

For adolescents, research has found that individual close friendships are particularly important. Caring relationships with adults, a sense of control, and the ability to be proactive and make decisions can also be important for adolescents.

While no one can protect children from all of life’s adversity and challenges, there are many things we can do to help children grow up to be more prepared and able to successfully handle and cope with the challenges they will face.

Resources/References

     

AnxietyADHDBipolar DisordersIntellectual DisabilityDepressionAutismPatients and FamiliesOCDPersonality DisordersEating DisordersSpecific Learning DisorderSchizophreniaAddictionPTSD

 

Comments (1) Add a Comment

  • Sam Peter

    Life has become very competitive. Even children as young as 5 years are having mental health problems , involving them in many recreational, social and cultural activities will help them in staying away from mental problems.

 

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