5 Ways to Help Improve a Child’s Mental Health
Good mental health allows children to think clearly, develop socially, and sets the framework for their mental health as adults. Paying attentions to your child’s mental health now by making sure to take all possible measures to promote self confidence, high self-esteem, and a healthy emotional outlook on life will lay the foundation for who they will become as adults.
In a recent survey by the Department of Health in 2016, over a third of young people aged 11-16 had concerns about their mental health, but as many as 61% of respondents did not seek professional help for their mental health concerns. There are many factors that impact a child’s mental health and can be a result of nature or nurture, or a combination of the two. It is important to be able to discern between the two and be proactive in order to promote positive mental health, whether you are a foster care provider or a parent.
1. Promote Safe and Secure Surroundings
Promoting a safe home life might be the most obvious necessity in laying the foundation for good mental health in children. Environmental risk factors such as living in an unsafe community, receiving poor quality physical care, and being exposed to other people who are engaging in unsafe behaviors are all risk factors that can lead to mental health problems. Sometimes it is helpful to have an outside perspective on a child’s home environment. Samples Supports offers licensed professionals who come into your home to provide insight and family counseling services. Since an unstable or threatening physical environment can promote mental health problems in the future, make sure your child’s surroundings are setting them up for success!
2. Encourage Play
Encouraging play in all forms positively affects every child’s mental health. Playing individually allows a child to use his or her imagination. It allows him or her to solve problems and feel a sense of accomplishment and independence. By playing with others in a group, children also develop the ability to express and communicate their ideas. They discover their strengths and weaknesses and start to grasp the concept of what it means to belong or to be a part of something. Playing one on one with someone allows for vulnerability and creates situations where children can test out new ideas without fearing social criticism.
Specifically, creative play, such as building, painting, or cooking, helps a child understand him or herself better and can give adults insight into the child’s mental health. Play that includes movement releases endorphins which make a child feel good, reducing anxiety and depression. This type of play also increases the child’s physical health and strength, as well as promotes a positive body image.
3. Display Unconditional Love and Positive Reinforcement
Taking the time to positively engage with children from an early age sets the foundation for their future mental health. By using encouraging words, setting realistic goals, and speaking honestly with them, you can foster positive behaviors and responses. “Most potential mental health problems will not become mental health problems if we respond to them early.” - InBrief: Early Childhood Mental Health.
Responding to a child with unconditional love promotes self confidence through failures. Punishments will allow for learning yet the child will know that love does not depend on success or failure.
Do you need some guidance on how to be the best influence to the child in your life? Sample Supports is committed to providing high quality care to all children, adolescents, and families in community based settings to increase their overall quality of life. Come in to Samples Supports with your fears, doubts, and questions so that you can learn how to set the best example for the child/children in your life.
4. Discipline Correctly
Practicing correct disciplinary tactics goes hand in hand with practicing positive reinforcement. By cultivating learning through failures and mistakes we as authority figures can enhance positive mental health in children. By setting realistic expectations and consequences, giving them explanations that they can understand, being consistent, and setting examples ourselves, we can model healthy behavior. By abstaining from nagging, avoiding threats or bribery, and criticizing the behavior not the child, we can help them learn how to assert themselves later in life when they find themselves in the role of the disciplinarian.
Perhaps you have a child in your life who knows how to push your buttons and engaging in positive discipline is not something you feel you can realistically do. We’re here for you! At Samples Supports, we have an on-call clinical support team that can visit an individual for the first time within 24 hours of a phone call. You’re not alone and you’re not the only one that needs help. In fact, admitting that and seeking guidance might be the best thing you will ever do for your child.
5. Pay attention to Warning Signs
Nationally, one in five children will have a diagnosable mental health disorder that is severe enough to impair functioning in the home, school or community; but only about 20 percent receive treatment.
Signs of mental illness in children and teens:
Are you are reading this and having a lightbulb moment because a child in your life is exhibiting behaviors on this list? Sample Supports offers short-term crisis intervention for youth and families in urgent need of assistance to address threats to family stability and permanency.
Studies have shown that these children, if left untreated by a mental health professional, will likely grow up and repeat these same behaviors with their own children. Stop the cycle by contacting a professional at Samples Supports today to get the child in your life the help he or she deserves.