Today is National Child & Youth Mental Health Day and what better time than right in the midst of a Pandemic to bring awareness to and acknowledgment of the thousands of young people and families who are in need of mental health support more than ever before.
Statistics show (in Canada) that almost 40 to 50 percent of all visits made to the Pediatrician’s office are due to mental health issues and that Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10 to 24 year olds. And lastly 70 percent of all mental health challenges usually begin around childhood and adolescence. My greatest fear right now is seeing those statistics soar even more than they already have in the coming months or years because of our current crisis.
These statistics are proof that we still have plenty of work ahead of us and that we desperately need to build caring and emotional connections with our young people to help them through their worries and fears, help them stay positive and hopeful during this time and beyond and help ensure that both their bodies and minds stay healthy too.
I have spoken to so many parents over the last several years regarding our children and mental health in general. These conversations are so important to have because they reassure us that we are not alone and over the last couple of weeks since I began working on my initiative to honour our “Class of 2020” Graduates it’s very clear that we truly are not alone in this fight.
Our kid’s are having to deal with stuff right now that is beyond our comprehension as parents and caregivers. They have lost so much (like beyond our comprehension) and we as parents need to keep an open dialogue and ensure that our kids know that when they are feeling anxious or scared or lonely or angry or frustrated that it’s perfectly normal and acceptable to have these feelings and we need to let them have these feelings and that even the most resilient kids are going to sometimes feel anxious or lonely or scared or angry or frustrated too and we need to keep an even closer eye on them!
But the more ways we can find to build those caring and emotional connections with our kids right now could really help make a difference in their lives while in quarantine. Simple acts of kindness or even our body language can go a very long way to putting a smile on a child’s face (no matter their age).
Try making them a favorite meal, pull out the old photo albums from when they were babies, make a Tik Tok video together, read them an extra long story at bedtime, make a fort in the living room with them and let them sleep in it, play a board game or do a puzzle together and of course hug them tight.
I have received a number of messages over the past couple of days from parents thanking me for helping to put a smile on their “Class of 2020” Graduate’s face and it warms my heart knowing that we can all make a child smile by building caring and emotional connections.
How many ways can you make your child smile today?
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