- Defining mental health
- The importance of mental health
- The different types of mental health disorders
- The causes of mental health disorders
- The symptoms of mental health disorders
- The treatments for mental health disorders
- The role of family and friends in supporting someone with a mental health disorder
- The importance of seeking professional help
- The stigma surrounding mental health
- How to talk to a child about mental health
Dr. Katherine Nordal, APA’s executive director for professional practice, offers advice for parents on how to talk to their children about mental health.
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Defining mental health
Mental health is often seen as an adult topic, but it’s just as important for children to understand. Mental health is simply defined as how we think, feel, and behave. It’s how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Just like physical health, mental health is something that can be positive or negative. Everyone has mental health, and it’s important to take care of it just like you would your physical health by eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
The importance of mental health
Mental health is just as important as physical health. It includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
The different types of mental health disorders
Mental health disorders come in many different types and levels of severity. Some mental health disorders are temporary and only last for a short period of time, while others may be long-lasting.
The different types of mental health disorders include:
Anxiety disorders: Anxiety disorders are characterized by feelings of fear, worry, and uneasiness. These feelings can be so severe that they interfere with a person’s ability to function in daily life.
Depressive disorders: Depressive disorders are characterized by feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness. These feelings can be so severe that they interfere with a person’s ability to function in daily life.
Bipolar disorder: Bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of extreme highs (mania) and lows (depression). These extremes can interfere with a person’s ability to function in daily life.
Eating disorders: Eating disorders are characterized by abnormal eating habits that can lead to severe health problems. Eating disorders can interfere with a person’s ability to function in daily life.
Personality disorders: Personality disorders are characterized by rigid patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving that can interfere with a person’s ability to function in daily life.
Psychotic disorders: Psychotic disorders are characterized by distorted perceptions of reality that can interfere with a person’s ability to function in daily life.
The causes of mental health disorders
Mental health disorders are common, affecting millions of children and adolescents in the United States each year. Mental health disorders can cause changes in thinking, emotion, and behavior that can interfere with school, work, and relationships.
There are many different types of mental health disorders. Some common types of mental health disorders include anxiety disorders, mood disorders, Eating disorders, Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism spectrum disorder.
Mental health disorders are caused by a combination of biological factors (genetics, brain chemistry), psychological factors ( stress , early childhood experiences) , and social factors (family relationships , peer pressure ).
The symptoms of mental health disorders
Mental health disorders can manifest in a variety of ways. It is important to be aware of the symptoms of mental health disorders so that you can better support your child if they are experiencing any of them.
Mental health disorders can cause changes in thinking, emotions, and behavior. Some common symptoms of mental health disorders include:
– Changes in mood, such as feeling sadder or more irritable than usual
– Changes in sleeping patterns, such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or sleeping more than usual
– Changes in eating habits, such as loss of appetite or overeating
– Changes in energy levels, such as feeling more tired than usual
-Changes in concentration or ability to think clearly
-Changes in self-esteem, such as feeling more down on oneself or feeling like nothing good ever happens
-Withdrawing from friends and activities that were previously enjoyed
-Experiencing persistent feelings of anxiety, fearfulness, orworthlessness
-Thinking about death or suicide
The treatments for mental health disorders
Mental health disorders are real, serious medical conditions that affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood and ability to relate to others. Mental health disorders are common, recurrent and costly. But there is good news: mental health disorders can be treated.
The first step is to get a proper diagnosis by a qualified mental health professional. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you and your treatment team can develop a plan that may include therapy, medication or both.
The role of family and friends in supporting someone with a mental health disorder
Mental illness is something that can be difficult to understand, especially for children. It’s important to remember that mental illness is not a choice and that people who suffer from mental illness need support and understanding from those around them.
There are many ways that family and friends can support someone with a mental health disorder. Here are some ideas:
-Be patient and understand that it may take time for the person to feel better.
-Encourage the person to seek professional help if they are struggling.
-Offer to go with the person to appointments or therapy sessions.
-Make sure the person is taking any medication as prescribed by their doctor.
-Encourage the person to eat healthy and get regular exercise.
– Help the person find activities or hobbies that they enjoy and make them feel good.
-Talk openly about mental health with the person and let them know they can come to you with anything they’re feeling.
– Be a positive role model for healthy coping mechanisms and positive self-talk.
The importance of seeking professional help
Mental health is an important topic that should be discussed with children from a young age. It is essential for children to understand that mental health is just as important as physical health and that there are professional people who can help them if they are struggling.
There are many benefits to seeking professional help for mental health issues. Professionals can provide support, guidance, and advice on how to deal with difficult emotions and situations. They can also offer medication or other treatments if necessary.
If you are worried about your child’s mental health, it is important to speak to a professional about your concerns.
The stigma surrounding mental health
Mental health is often misunderstood and surrounded by a lot of stigma. This can make it difficult to talk about, especially with children. It’s important to remember that mental illness is not the result of personal weakness or a character flaw. It is a real medical condition that can be effectively treated.
Here are some tips for explaining mental health to a child:
-Find a good time to talk. Choose a time when you’re both relaxed and there are no distractions.
-Listen more than you talk. Give your child plenty of opportunities to ask questions and express their feelings.
-Use simple words and examples. Avoid using technical terms or jargon.
-Be honest. It’s okay to admit that you don’t have all the answers. You can always look for more information together.
-Reassure your child that they are not alone. Let them know that many people have similar experiences and there is help available.
-Focus on the positive. Emphasize that most people with mental illness recover and go on to lead happy, fulfilling lives
How to talk to a child about mental health
There are a lot of myths and stereotypes about mental health. It’s important to talk to your child about mental health in a way that is open, honest and respectful.
Here are some tips:
-Start early: It’s never too late to start the conversation about mental health, but it’s especially important to start early.
-Be open and honest: Be open and honest with your child about mental health. Explain that mental illness is a real and serious problem, but it’s also treatable.
-Respect their feelings: Respect your child’s feelings. If they seem uncomfortable or reluctant to talk about mental health, respect their wishes and try again at a later time.
-Encourage questions: Encourage your child to ask questions. This will help them understand mental health better and feel more comfortable talking about it.
-Keep the conversation going: Mental health should be seen as an ongoing conversation, not a one-time chat. Check in with your child regularly to see how they’re doing and offer support if needed.