Dancing through daffodils
Smiling at the frog as it leaps to freedom
Upturned face capturing the sweet breeze
Swing set waiting in anticipation for little legs to set it flying
Sprinklers chase them through the grass
As peals of laughter waft up to the listening ears of perched birds
Sun shining on closed lids
As they wake up from a dream full of peace
Only to open their eyes and realize it’s another day
Another day of being sad
And they wish they could go back to sleep again
The escape of a child…
Caring for children is one of the most important tasks we have as adults. All around us is evidence of what happens when we don’t: Chaos.
May 5th is children’s mental health awareness day. We must understand that as the stewards of young lives our job goes way beyond just feeding and clothing them. It means being responsible for both their physical and mental well-being. With over 18 years of experience working with the mental health of young people (from a mentor at age 18, to case manager, to school counselor) I have seen first hand the devastating effects of what happens when a child’s mental health is neglected.
I posted this two days early to give us a little time to reflect on how we can be a catalyst for positive change in a young persons life. So on Thursday May 5, and hopefully everyday, take time to speak life into the world of a child. Your words mean more than you may ever know, so make them encouraging.
You are worthy of being holistically well, and so are our children.
Children feel sad. They feel frustrated. They feel angry. They feel happy. They are human so they feel. But sometimes they do not know how to deal with those feelings, how to manage those emotions. They might not actually know that something is wrong; they just know that something isn’t right.
May 5, 2016 is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. Children’s mental health problems are real, common and treatable. Unfortunately, although one in five children has a diagnosable mental health problem, very few receive the help they need.
Mental health is important to overall health. Mental health disorders are chronic health conditions (those that go on for a long time and often don’t go away completely) that can continue throughout the lifespan. Without early diagnosis and treatment, children with mental health disorders can have great difficulty. Untreated mental health problems can disrupt every facet of a child’s world, from home to school, from the playground to the larger outside community. They are at an increased risk of school failure, contact with the criminal justice system, and even suicide.
Mental health in childhood means learning healthy social skills and how to cope when there are problems. Mental health disorders among children are described as serious changes in the way children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions, which cause distress and problems getting through the day.
Childhood mental health disorders do not discriminate. They affect every type of child and every type of family. Boys and girls of all ages, ethnic/racial backgrounds, socioeconomic status, and living all over the world, experience mental health disorders, no one is exempt. According to the World Health Organization, globally 50% of mental illness that occurs in a lifetime begins by age 14.
Children’s mental health is without a doubt the most important aspect of any child’s social and cognitive development. Parents and family members are usually the first to notice if a child has problems with emotions or behavior.
There are a variety of components that can impact a child’s mental health. When it comes to children’s mental health, as guardians the best thing to do is provide children with an environment full of love, understanding, healthy boundaries, compassion, and trust. However, even with the best of intentions, some things are out of one’s control. Some disorders are genetic and in those instances the best thing to do is to become educated in the disorder, utilize available resources, and access the necessary care. Then there are those special circumstances where a family adopts. The child may be a family member or they might not be, but whatever the child’s biological background, there may come a time when additional supports are needed in the home to help navigate the feelings and emotions that come up throughout the adoption journey.
Although it is a potentially difficult time, resources are available. With the help of a good practitioner, a willingness to work through the process and the knowledge that positive change is possible, your child or young adult can achieve mental wellness.