This is a sponsored guest post, that may or may not express the views of Mommy Ramblings.
Years ago, mental health was more of a taboo subject, and people were more likely to hide their struggles.
Thankfully, we’ve come a long way as a society. Most people now understand that mental illness isn’t much different from physical illness. The brain is a muscle that we must nurture and exercise in order to avoid issues. Now for explaining this all to your kids…
Why it’s important to discuss mental health
According to data from the CDC, suicide rates are on a steady incline for the first time in over three decades, and one of the most concerning demographic group is girls between the ages of 10 and 14.
To be honest, no one is really sure why suicide rates have increased so drastically in this group, but one theory has to do with puberty.
If you have a teenager, you are intimately familiar with the way hormones can impact your child’s mood. And there’s a ton of research that links puberty with depression in both boys and girls.
To say the least, it’s a precarious time for the child and parent.
Opening the discussion of mental health can let your child know that it’s ok to feel down sometimes, but it’s also important to talk about your feelings.
More consequences of mental health issues
Suicide is a terrifying consequence of mental health issues, but it’s not the only one. Teens who struggle with anxiety and depression are more likely to experiment with drugs in an attempt to self-medicate. Not only is this a problem for teens, but it can lead to bigger issues in adulthood. No less than 90 percent of all adult addicts in the U.S. started smoking, drinking, and/or using drugs under the age of 18.
Tips for talking to your kids about mental health
- Start with the basics – Talk to your kids about mental health as it relates to overall health. Let them know that it’s as important to be mentally healthy as it is to be physically healthy, and there’s no shame in having mental health struggles.
- Have compassion for others and for yourself – If someone is or seems to be struggling with mental health, try not to take it personally or react in anger. Their actions are not this person’s fault any more than they are your fault. Have compassion. Treat this person with kindness to the best of your ability. The same applies to yourself. If you find that you’re struggling with mental health issues, show yourself some compassion. Try not to be hard on yourself.
- Talk about your feelings – If you notice you’re having a lot of negative feelings that you cannot control, don’t be afraid to get help. Let your kids know that they can talk to you about anything. If they don’t feel comfortable talking with you, let them know that you can make a counselor available to them. The important part is to talk to someone.
The topic of mental health should never be taboo – and your children should always know this. They should always feel comfortable talking to you about how they are feeling. And this is more likely to happen when you open the dialog.