General Wellness

Supporting Your Kids’ Mental Health

You’ve likely seen the headlines: The pandemic has not been kind to kids’ mental health and wellness, increasing everything from depression and anxiety to substance abuse to issues with sleeping and eating. Isolation and uncertainty as well as lack of access to care during the heart of the pandemic have contributed to a growing mental health epidemic among kids, tweens and teens.

When it comes to supporting mental health in younger generations, “the first rule of caring for your child’s emotional or behavior struggles is that there are no rules,” according to Mental Health America.

Experts recommend covering the basics first: Is your child getting enough sleep? Good nutrition? Are they overstimulated? Creating a low-stress, supportive home environment that includes praise and encouragement as well as flexibility can help nurture feelings of safety as can open lines of communication, whether that means ongoing family discussion or finding a therapist who specializes in your child’s age and stage.

Kids need to know that it’s ok to feel sad, angry or confused and that it can help to share their feelings. Ask questions and encourage deep breaths. Routines can also create a sense of regularity and safety; include time for physical movement and family activities and try to limit media use/screen time. It is also important to take care of your own mental health—you can model this by discussing your feelings and making time for things you enjoy.

“While it would be helpful to have a parenting manual that helped us through these challenging times, each family is different and each child is different, so it’s really important to listen, avoid comparison and respond if your child exhibits signs of a more serious issues,” said Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Knapp. “As parents, sometimes the best thing we can do is be there, pay attention and respond when needed.”

In addition, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a free and confidential 24/7 national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP for anyone in need.


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