Children's Mental Health Week 2024: Tips for supporting your child
Mental health challenges are something that lots of us have to manage throughout our lives. However, children who are facing the same issues are often misunderstood and find it hard to speak about their problems.
This is true more now than ever. According to The Children's Society, the likelihood of young people having a mental health problem has increased by 50%. And, five children in a classroom of 30 are likely to have a mental health problem.
Place2Be’s Children’s Mental Health Week (which runs from 5th to the 11th of February) has been raising awareness of these health challenges since 2015. This year, their campaign is focused on ‘My Voice Matters’. The charity’s wide range of resources for organisations, parents and schools are designed to educate people about the different ways that children grow and how we can support them.
You can find all of the information about the campaign here.
Let’s face it, parenting is a challenge. So, when your little one is showing changing moods and is acting out of character, it can be a bit of a shock. That’s why this Children's Mental Health Week we want to highlight some of the symptoms and management techniques that will help your child understand their mental health.
Here are top tips for dealing with depression, anxiety and bereavement:
Depression and anxiety
Research carried out by the Office for National Statistics showed that nearly one-third of 16 to 24-year-olds report some symptoms of depression and anxiety.
What to look out for: Both of these conditions can manifest as a low mood and often result in a young person withdrawing or isolating themselves. You might also find that your child is finding it more difficult to cope with things like school work and friendships or they could be more irritable. Anxiety tends to cause more physical symptoms like shallow breathing, feeling sick, sweating more and even irritable bowel syndrome.
How to help: The first thing you can do is spot any of the above symptoms and (as Young Minds mental health charity recommends) if you spot two or more chat to your GP. Some of the best things that you can do at home are:
- Try to start a conversation and actively listen - don’t be thrown off if you get anger or frustration in return, this is often a sign that your child trusts you and wants to share their feelings.
- Reassure them: It’s best to remind them that you love them and that these feelings will pass.
- Get them to think about a place where they feel safe: When they are calm, why not ask your child where their happy place is? Help them to visualise this place in their mind which will help them relax and feel more mindful.
Around 111 children are being bereaved of a parent every day and this figure has increased due to Covid-19.
What to look out for: Although every child responds differently to loss, some key things to look out for are if they are frightened about their own health of others, increased irritability and anxiety as well as a lack in concentration.
How to help: The best way to prevent difficult loss is to make your child feel safe in saying goodbye. Invite them to family gatherings and funerals in an age-appropriate way and prepare them for what is to come. You can also:
- Encourage them to keep doing their hobbies and activities: Prevent your child from feeling guilty about having a good time, let them know its great (and normal) to feel happy.
- Make sure to use clear language: It can sometimes be hard to use words like ‘death’ when we are speaking to younger children because it can feel safer to use softer words. This is not always the best idea as it can confuse them and will not help them to come to terms with loss.
- Reach out to school’s to tell them what’s happened: Schools have lots of systems and resources in place to help children who have lost someone close to them. By seeking out this support, you take some of the pressure off of yourself too!
Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. The content however should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands or treatments.
Information written by the talkhealth team
Last revised: 1 February 2024
Next review: 1 February 2027