Talking About Mental Health with Ease at Every Stage
Health Empowerment Series, preventing negative mental health outcomes thru connectedness and perseverance. Let’s talk about it!
EASY WAYS TO TALK MENTAL HEALTH WITHOUT STIGMA!
We must open the floor to discussions about mental health at every age. We talk about healthy foods, and exercise from the time we are born, why aren’t we talking about our minds in the same way? The Health Empowerment Series is!
The mind is not separate from your body, so let’s start talking about it as we should be. FREELY!
None of us have all the answers, and mental health, like body health is very individualized. There is nutrition and culture involved, environment and trauma, and a list of personal choices. Great news is, these are all things that we can talk about without fear.
We start with the little ones with emotional intelligence and regulation. Recognizing, naming and taming. Regular conversations about feelings, emotions and body sensations are a great place to start. We validate, we support, we guide!
Avoid phrases like, “don’t cry”, “you’re fine”, “get over it”. These are suppression words, and after all, you must feel it to heal it! Encourage coping strategies instead.
Continue to encourage body talk to help your child and you understand what they are feeling.
“I see that you are sweating, and your eyes are wide, it looks like you are nervous/anxious”
Now you can provide remedy for this. " Would a glass of water help?”, “Would you like to try some breathing with me?”, “We can calm down together, let’s try”, “Can I hug you?”
Since children often do not know what they are feeling, it’s our place to step in and offer support and understanding. You do not need to solve the problem, rather provide comfort and knowledge. Bring your calm and easy energy to encourage calm and ease. There are plenty of regulation tools and coping skills to be found: www.generationkindful.org https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Wholehearted-School-Counseling
SCHOOL KIDS: The older the kiddos get, the more confusing emotions can become. They may understand more about their body sensations, and may even be able to communicate if they are anxious, depressed, or other issues that may need more attention. “Mom, I feel sad, but I do not know why”. This is an opportunity to explore what’s happening with your child. Too much screen time, issues with friends, low nutrition, low exercise, feeling isolated. You can create a checklist for your child/family that is aligned with your family value system.
TEENS: You should be in constant contact with your pre-teen and teenagers’ emotions and keep a close eye on any signals or sudden changes. Your connectedness and involvement will be a crucial support role here.
You can use big words and still set boundaries, but do not be afraid to talk about real issues. Life is messy, all feelings are allowed, and everything is talkable! Make the time and create habits of “talk time” that makes it easy for your teen to share all feelings and emotions, no matter how uncomfortable they may be for you to discuss.
You may need to ask the hard questions the older they get. Even conversations about mind issues including; OCD, Self-harm like cutting, Suicide, Schizophrenia, Drug Dependency, Personality Disorders, Bullying and the like.
Solicit them for ideas and information on how to navigate these issues. They know how their body feels, they have an idea on how their mind works, they may just need to bounce some ideas off you to find their own joy!
Feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns. I may not have all the answers, but we can work together to find out what is best for you and your loves!
Best in health,
Cheryl Chouman, MPH