Talking About Mental Health Page
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How do you talk to kids about mental health? Find out how to start impactful conversations with children about their mental health and how adults can role model mental wellness.
[MUSIC PLAYING] Hi, I'm Dr. Ariana Hoet, clinical director of On Our sleeves and a pediatric psychologist at Nationwide Children's Hospital. I'll be answering questions for you, the GoNoodle community. I'm excited you're here with me to talk about the importance of children's mental health and the mental health of adults too. Let's get the conversation going. Are mental health concerns increasing in children? How can I help? Unfortunately, yes. We have seen, over the past 10 years, even before the pandemic, that there were concerns rising when it came to children's mental health. And then the pandemic happened and it just added to that. So there are many, many different ways we could help. I would say the first step is starting the conversation. Talk to your child about how they're feeling. Give them the words to identify and label the emotions they're feeling. And then talk about, what do I do with those feelings? How do I cope with them? How do I calm down when I need to? How can we serve as role models for mental health for our children? This one's really important, because our children learn by watching us. So if we are modeling, taking care of ourselves, prioritizing our emotional and mental health, then children will learn to do the same. So think about, even though it may feel weird labeling how you're feeling at the end of the day, like, wow, that was a long day. I'm stressed out. So I'm going to listen to a song to calm down, or I'm going to dance and just talk about those emotions, and then talk about how you're coping with them. Don't be afraid to share your emotions with children because they're learning by watching you. How do we start conversations around mental health? When we start conversations around mental health, we first have to define it to our children. Mental health means how we feel, how we act, how we think. And mental health impacts our decisions or behaviors, how we interact with others, how we deal with difficult situations. And so after defining it, we talk about how some kids may sometimes feel emotions so strongly that they start to get in the way of day to day life. And so it's important we learn how to cope with them. Then you just start the conversation with the child. Ask them how they're feeling and what's going on, and really listen, put your agenda aside, put your emotions aside, and just be there for them. Listen to what they're saying. Don't ask a lot of questions. Let them guide the conversation. And then once you're done talking through what's going on, then you can ask them permission. Are you ready for me to ask a few questions? Can I give you some advice? And again, be open and welcoming, create that safe space. If you're a teacher and you're worried about a child, definitely reach out to the school counselor and the parent so that you can all problem-solve together on how to help. How can adults take care of their well-being, especially teachers? In therapy, sometimes we do this thing called a values assessment where we really measure the different areas of our lives that we value. From 1 to 10, how important is family? How important is friends? How important is work? And then we sit and look at that and think, am I spending the same amount of time of what I value in those areas? If I really value family, but I'm not spending a lot of time there, that tells me I need to shift my boundaries and how I'm spending my time. And so start there, assess how your day to day is going. Spend some time with your friends, family, community, social connections are really important for our mental health. And then of course, I know you hear this all the time when it comes to taking care of our mental health. But good sleep, moving your body, watching what you eat, just taking care of your physical health is also very important. I hope you enjoyed our Q&A session. Our mission is to help raise healthy kids by empowering the adults who love them with the resources they need along the way. Visit our All The Fields channel on GoNoodle for free mental health tools and resources. And we invite you to join our community for ongoing tips from onoursleeves.org. Because children don't wear their thoughts on their sleeves, we're determined to give them a voice and empower the mental health and wellness of every child. [MUSIC PLAYING]