Celebrated on the 10th of October every year, World Mental Health Day seeks to spread awareness and understanding of issues related to Mental Health and break the chain of words flippantly used to address its causes. It seeks to ensure that proper awareness prevails and the stigmas attached to these sensitive topics are busted for the society to function properly. While the past years we as a society may have evolved much more than ever as far as Mental health awareness is concerned, there is yet a lot that needs to be taken up and discussed to destigmatize the topic.
There is no health without mental health and that totally rings true. In positioning ourselves to foster healthy bodies and focusing only on the physical aspect of well-being, seldom do we realise that our Mental health more often than not takes a back seat. While with the fast-paced lives it’s safe to say that there is a lot that modern-day adults go through which can lead to their Mental Health constantly getting hampered, it is no surprise that children are troubled by these issues too and the underlying causes can be:
- Peer Pressure
- Comparison at school or home
- A sensitive incident that triggered stress & anxiety
- An unforgettable visual that may be unsettling
There are innumerable causes which can lead to mental disorders in children where children may react to situations in ways they never did, start throwing tantrums, constantly get mood swings and anxiety, say NO to everything, so on and so forth. While underlying causes are endless, it is important that these sensitive topics are addressed before these escalate to the next level where getting your child the help, they require may not be the only way out.
Symptoms that can help you identify your child’s Mental State
Amongst common issues like peer pressure and bullying or fear of judgement a child can seem flustered due to a little more complex reasons including Separation anxiety due to parting from parents, grandparents or any caregiver. Social anxiety where a child doesn’t feel confident around people or phobias from specific things can also lead to mood shifts and overthinking disorder in children resulting in anxiety and stress. These causes can make even the most outgoing and upbeat children feel a sense of lack and prone to health risks.
Here are some symptoms that may help you detect a problem if your child refuses to share:
- Incessant thumping of heart which feels pretty intense.
- Rapid breathing upon bringing up sensitive topics
- Sleep deprivation
- Easy crying
- Frequent head/stomach aches
CHANGES IN FEELINGS:
- Feelings of guilt or shame
- Refusal to engage in normal activities
- Refusal to help
- Trouble getting along with peers
- Over-reacting to the smallest of issues
- Spending considerable time daydreaming
- Constantly cursing themselves
- Refusing to go to school
- Having trouble concentrating
All these factors may also crop up if depression runs in the family or these could also result from bad experiences in early childhood. More often that not these issues can be normal and can result from tiredness or fatigue and may have absolutely nothing to do with Mental disorders. No matter what the cause, it’s important that a child gets proper professional help or is spoken to on a daily basis by a parent/guardian to understand the root causes more profoundly.
Ways you can nurture your child’s Mental Health
Start with addressing and nurturing your child’s self-esteem and body image so that he/she grows up to be confident individuals. If your child is affected by constant criticism at school or elsewhere and fears comparison then it is your duty to help your child rediscover themselves. Teach them the importance of embracing individuality and celebrating their flaws. Appreciate them for every little effort they make as that will encourage them to openly discuss all that is happening in their life. Make it a point to ask them about their day and be a part of their daily activities so they always see you as a friend they can share all their fears/life’s major happenings with.
Don’t just listen to what they need to say but also respect their feelings:
There is a possibility that most of the times your child may feel the need to keep certain things to themselves to avoid confrontation. To make sure that your child doesn’t hide things from you and knows that you would be there for him/her no matter how vulnerable they feel, you will have to start asking them questions and listen to what they have to say without passing any judgements. Encourage them to talk more and more and release their thoughts, even on days when they are happy. Your child should know that you are their constant companion in both happy and sad moments. If the aforementioned symptoms start interfering with your child’s daily routine then it is best advised that you get your child professional help. While it is always recommended to create an environment at home where your child feels free to discuss his/her inhibitions, in case your child has difficulty sharing, take up the concerns with a trained therapist.
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