Every year in May, we celebrate Childrens Mental Health Day! Our Behavioral
Health Registered Nurse, Tamara Campbell, helped us answer some common
questions that parents, teachers or care givers may have about Child Mental Health.
WHAT IS CHILDRENS MENTAL HEALTH?
First, let’s start with defining mental health. Mental health is
the way a child thinks and feels about themselves and the world around
them. A child’s mental health affects how they cope with life's
challenges and stresses.
“Children with good mental health feel happy and positive about themselves
most of the time,” says Tamara. Children are kind to themselves
when they face difficult problems or when things don’t go their
way. They are usually up for a challenge and like to try new things.
When a child’s mental health is declining, you’ll notice that
they are more irritable or emotional. “When a child is struggling
with a mental illness you might see dramatic changes in eating or sleeping
habits, significant tiredness or low energy and withdrawal from friends
and family,” says Tamara. Some children can show excessive fear,
worry, and anxiety or may just stop doing an activity all together.
SIGNS OF POOR MENTAL HEALTH:
- A Decline in School Performance
- Poor Grades
- Strong Anger
- Temper Tantrums
- Refusal to go to School or Family Gatherings
Mental health disorders in children are very treatable. When we frame mental
illness as a treatable condition, children can feel more hopeful about
seeking help. The mental health of the children in our communities are
part of their overall health and wellbeing. The same way children know
they need to see a doctor when they have an illness or injury, is also
true when they struggle with a mental health issue.
DOES BULLYING AFFECT MENTAL HEALTH?
Bullying is a form of violence and can have a significant impact on a child's
mental health. Teaching children to respect others and talk to them about
bullying as an ongoing basis can help reduce bullying in our schools and
“It’s important to teach children how to express their feelings
clearly, stand up for themselves without fighting, and know when to walk
away from a dangerous situation,” says Tamara. “Youth who
experience persistent bullying can develop signs of depression like sadness,
isolation, poor concentration and sleeping problems.”
Many children will not speak up about the way they are feeling or being
treated, because they are embarrassed from it. Make sure you are creating
the conversation at home to know how your child is doing mentally.
HOW CAN I HELP?
Every child has mental health. Just like our physical health, it can be
good or poor depending on how we take care of ourselves. “Good mental
health in children occurs when they are shown unconditional love, given
opportunities to develop self-confidence, allowed to play with other children,
have encouragement from teachers and caregivers and live in safe and secure
surroundings,” says Tamara.
Just like with physical disease, a mental disease can develop despite all
our efforts to help our children stay mentally healthy. “When a
child is diagnosed with a mental illness, it does not mean that a child
is weak or inadequate, nor does it mean that parenting or caretaking of
the child has been inadequate. Having open conversations about childhood
mental illness can help reduce the stigma in our communities,” says Tamara.
It is also important to remember that just because a child has a mental
illness like anxiety or depression, it does not mean they have this diagnosis
for life. Early intervention with our Early Intervention Specialists can
help children gain positive coping strategies and could prevent future episodes.
We also have an amazing Behavioral Health team, filled with great people
like Michelle Taylor, ARNP; Deyanira Gonzalez, MSW; and Elsie Garza, MSW;
Tamara Campbell, RN; who can help your child with any help they may need.
Make an appointment for your child with our Behavioral Health team or Early
Intervention Specialist team today. Call or text 509-488-5256.