With so much focus on mental health from an adult perspective, it’s easy to forget that this is a matter which also relevant to children.
According to the NHS, one in eight (12.8%) of children and young people aged between five and 19, surveyed in England in 2017, has a mental health disorder.
These issues often manifest very differently in children than they would in adults, and since children have yet to develop many of the necessary coping mechanisms, parents are faced with a unique and two sided challenge in both recognising - and dealing with - these complex and sensitive matters.
The question of how to equip our children emotionally and mentally for this modern world is one that is at the forefront of many parents minds, and it is something that we will be looking at in more detail as we head into Children’s Mental Health Week (3rd to 10th February)
There is evidence that age-appropriate mindfulness practices can go a long way towards facilitating sound mental health, alongside other factors such as eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, a safe family environment and having time and freedom for imaginative and creative play.
Though seemingly simplistic, there is much to be said for the power of creative play in terms of helping children to express, process and understand their emotions. Expressing feelings can be difficult for a child, and creative play (which often involves describing different emotions/situations through drawing, painting, make-believe games, role-playing or storytelling, for example) can be a useful means for them to express these emotions, make sense of them and ultimately feel more confident.
Spending time 1-1 with children on a regular basis, and doing things that they enjoy (this will be unique to each child) can help to ensure their emotional needs are met, which then enables them to feel more connected.
You’ll find more articles on this topic at www.mums-magazine.co.uk/mentalhealth