Hello! My name is Ellice and I am the Mental Health Specialist here at KeepaBeat. I’ve been working in and studying psychology and mental health for the last 6 years and I have just started a PhD looking at how mental health awareness training can improve people’s attitude, knowledge and skills when supporting someone with a mental health concern. My specialty is young people, particularly when they’re in education, and I am thrilled to be working with KeepaBeat on such an important issue.
This week (3-9 February 2020) is children’s mental health week. Today, 1 in 8 children and young people have a diagnosable mental health condition, yet 70% have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age. Mental illness is not a result from bad parenting, but as parents we play a central role that is critical to their recovery.
This year’s theme for children’s mental health week is “Find Your Brave”. In this challenging world, learning to cope with life’s little dramas is an important lesson for us all, but bravery isn’t about coping alone or holding things in.
What can you do? Here are a few things we can do to help our children find their brave:
- Praise your child when they find their brave. It is a well-known fact that children respond better to rewarding desired behaviour, so praise your little ones when they have been brave, open about their feelings or reached out for support. This will help amplify their good behaviour and motivate them to continue.
- Let them fail. While we all want to protect our children from upset and disappointment, failure is good for kids on several levels. Experiencing defeat and learning to cope with disappointment will build resilience and encourage them to handle negative outcomes in a calm and considerate manner, a skill that’s certainly needed in the big, real world. Trying new things and pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone are all important skills that will boost self-esteem and build better resilience.
- Talk about when you have had to find your brave. Your little ones are learning from you all of the time and leading by example will certainly have an impact on how they respond to life’s little dramas. Show them that you too experience sadness, disappointment and anxiety at times and how you have had to be brave.
- Point out examples of bravery in books and films. Relating to their favourite tv characters or superheroes will help teach them different ways of being brave and show them that bravery comes in many different forms. My favourite example is in Finding Nemo when Marlin swims through a sea of jellyfish to save Dory, even though he knows he’ll get stung many times. What’s yours?
- Reassure that not feeling brave is okay too. There are times where it’s more difficult to be brave and establishing that it’s okay not to be okay and sharing a worry or asking for help is also incredibly courageous. Helping children feel comfortable seeking support is an important skill that can have a transformational impact on their lives. It’s not a weakness to speak up or ask for help and learning this from a young age will enable them to build self-esteem and resilience for future challenges they may face way into adulthood.
Hopefully building these 5 simple activities into our children’s day-to-day lives will help them establish some healthy coping mechanisms for when they face future challenges.
If you’re interested in learning more about children and young people’s mental health and how you can support them, why not come along to one of our brand new parent sessions or awareness sessions? (running within our Hertfordshire KeepaBeat training centre)