Mental health includes our whole being – our emotional, social and psychological selves. It involves what we sense, how we feel, how and what we think and eventually shows to how we behave. The foundation of every adult is laid in their childhood, so it is critical that the foundation of sound mental health is also laid in the formative years. Every stage of human life & mental health are connected – from infancy to childhood, to adolescence, to adulthood & finally to old age. Neither of the stages is more significant or less important.
Children should be made conscious that just like our physical health, we have mental health. We give priority to food and exercise to develop physically, similarly, we must understand the significance of mental health awareness. Giving priority to our thoughts & feelings can help us develop the power to face all the challenges that life would throw at us.
An honest conversation with the children will be sufficient when we say, all who have a body have to think of their physical health and all who have a brain have to think of mental health. Methods to have healthier and happier children should be our paramount priority.
Sound mental health is essential for a child’s success in life – be it in school or with companions. When we install such a growth mindset in ourselves & our children, there will be no stigma attached to mental health. Shame should never stop the path to take help.
Everyone can be nervous & scared sometimes. Encouragement should be given to recognise thoughts & feelings and talk about them. No one requires to worry alone & it’s OKAY to ask for help; this should be the clear message related to children.
Adults who are around children – parents & teachers, have to be alert and curious about a child’s body language, verbal & non-verbal conversations with others, in what they write & what they draw. If they find something amiss, then it’s okay not to wait for the child to begin the conversation or confide in us.
Moods and thoughts change constantly, so offering empathy & being understanding gives confidence to the child, rather than being judgmental & offering solutions. Unconditional love & no rationing in awarding praise whenever the child does something right is highly recommended. A listening ear is a good beginning and providing instructions can follow later. Substituting nagging and yelling with disciplining with care is something I endorse.