It is reported that 1 in 8 children suffer from mental health problems, This week is Children’s mental health awareness week 4th – 10th February 2019.
Children’s Mental Health Week was first launched in 2015 by the charity Place2Be. It’s aim is to raise awareness of mental health in children and young people. They also want to get people spreading the word and get more people involved.
Place2Be is a charity that provides school based support and in-depth training to help improve the emotional well being of the pupils and their families as well as teachers and school staff.
igns of mental illness in children?
It’s important to know the signs that your child may have a mental health condition some of these can be:
- They may have difficulty concentrating. check for any signs of trouble keeping focused or sitting still, both of which can end in poor performance or frequently getting into trouble in school.
- Intense emotions. Be aware of feelings such as overwhelming fear or anger that appear to be for no reason — sometimes with a racing heart or fast breathing.
- Changes in Behaviour. look for changes in character, especially if it is
completely‘out of character’. This could be getting into fights or flying off the handle at the slightest thing. It could also be being quiet and not talking when they used to be open and talk a lot.
- Substance abuse. Some kids use drugs or alcohol to try to cope with their feelings. They may also use food to cope too.
- Unexplained weight gain or loss. A sudden loss of or apparent gain in appetite, frequent vomiting or use of laxatives might indicate an eating disorder.
- Changes in mood. Keep an eye out for feelings of sadness or withdrawing into themselves especially where it lasts for at least two weeks or they could have severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships.
- Physical symptoms. Children with a mental health condition can develop headaches, stomachaches or other aches and pains rather opposed to sadness and anxiety.
- Self-harm. Sometimes a mental health condition leads to self-injury, also called self-harm. Self-harm is the act of deliberately harming your own body, such as cutting or burning themselves. Children with a mental health condition also might develop suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide.
How to help your child
You don’t have to know exactly what’s happening in their world to help them. Just letting them know you’re there for them can help.
Using open questions rather than closed questions like ‘Are you okay?‘ closed questions will tend to get single word answers.
Open questions are questions that start with How, What, Where, When. Open questions help them think and reflect on the question. They will also help to get feelings, opinions and hand control of the conversation to your child. After they give their initial answer, it may help to remain silent for longer than normal as it may prompt them to elaborate.
It’s important to listen more than talk, this will show that you care. Also be careful to not give advice unless it is asked for.
Remember, if you are seriously concerned, then get help from your child’s GP. You can also find more help on the Place2Be website
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