Childrens Mental Health with Tamara Campbell, RN
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 communities.
“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.