How to Talk about Mental Health with Kids
The year 2020 has been an eye opener to every human on the planet including the one’s who felt nothing could have affected them, but have been vulnerable. This pandemic has highlighted the fact it is better to be open about mental health not only with adults but kids too whether or not they or any close relation suffers from mental health problems.
Research has highlighted one in four of us will be affected at some point of our lifespan so why not talk about the real issues with our child. So how can we Talk about Mental Health with Kids ??
Start with the Basics
Communicate the idea just as our body can fall sick, so can our brain. It’s important we don’t feel the stigma attached to it and treat it how we would treat a fever or a migraine.
The idea is to create a normalcy around mental illness and help children process it as a common thing that can happen to anyone
Be honest in letting them know the facts
Use the correct terminologies addressing the issue like depression, bipolar etc . If kids have question, be honest in informing the facts depending upon how much can they understand. Never lie or have layers to what you say. You don’t need to keep secrets around it. If you don’t know some answers, accept it and tell them to help you find the same together
Talk at the right Moments
Talking about mental health issues could be overwhelming for a child, hence it is important to talk at child’s pace and not overthrowing bundle of information on them. Check on the understanding level of your child and converse in moments when they are calm, peaceful and ready to dissipate the information.
Check on when they would prefer to communicate, would they like to talk about it openly or would prefer you to give them a document to read Or would they prefer to talk over their favourite TV show or simply on the dinner table. If they wish to talk to some one else show them the trust you can connect with to an adult whom they are comfortable talking like their grandparents etc
Use Stories to communicate
Story telling can be an effective way to explore difficult topics and undoubtedly mental health currently is one of them. There are various books being published by psychologist and more and it can be an beautiful way to touch upon the subject. Some books like the big bag of worries, Ruby’s Worries, How not to lose it can be great starters. For elder kids, one can give reference of their favourite artist or celebrities who had to go through mental issues
Talk about their fears and worries
A lot of questions may pop up during this process including the fear of unknown. It thereby becomes important for us parents to reassure our child
It’s important you debark the myths associated regarding mental health problems like this can be contagious disease or you were responsible for your dear ones condition. Rather give reassurance that mental illness can happen to anyone and can be treated.
Help your network
Growing number of youth specially the teenagers in our current era are going through mental issues for varied reasons. It’s time we teach our children to offer their ears and connect with their friends and extended network by offering a space of comfort to communicate problems one is facing.
Sending a text message “Hey how you doing, i am here to talk anything you have in your mind”. Simple message like this can be an ice breaker and may help the person to open up and talk about his underlying issues. Imagine talking to a teenager who is going through a mental hardship can be such a relief.
Personally I feel, mental health should be addressed in schools too. It is important to train teachers in supporting children facing mental illness. It is the need of the hour to break the stigma attached to it and start our talks about mental health with kids.
This blog is a part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter‘
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