Children’s Mental Health Week

Posted: 3rd February 2021

Children’s Mental Health Week


This week is Children’s Mental Health week and never before has this been more important to highlight. It is important that we recognise that if we as adults don’t look after our own mental health, we will not be able to support our children as we need to.


Never before in my teaching career have I seen children, families and teachers under more strain than they are now. The ‘new normal’ is forcing us to behave in ways that are not natural and in many cases, stop us from accessing our normal outlets. It can be quite subtle and creep up on you and you have to be on your guard or you may fall victim. 


Not spending time with family and friends can deprive us of the opportunity to share our burdens and in many cases just let off steam. Just like in First Aid, the first step in supporting your child’s mental health is to look after your own. As adults we feel the need to protect our children from what is going on in the world but often, in doing so, we stop speaking to our children about it. More importantly, we may miss the opportunity to listen to their concerns. Children learn by mimicking adults and will try to protect us by not talking if this is what we model to them. 


The second thing you can do is EXPRESS YOURSELF and encourage your child to do the same – a very apt slogan for this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week. The power of talking things over is never to be underestimated. I often say to children that the act of talking something through will often slow your thinking down and allow you to process things.

I find singing helps for me – the effect it has on others hearing it may not be quite so soothing!


Thirdly, find ways to be mindful and have your child do the same. It doesn’t have to be meditation or yoga but find something that keeps you in the present and focussed on only one thing. I find that breathing exercises work for me but there are many other things you could try. Perhaps a hobby or pastime that forces you to be present in the moment. Playing a musical instrument  is a great example of this. 


Never neglect your own or your child’s physical health. Make sure that time for exercise is prioritised. I am not talking about running marathons here, but simply going for a brisk walk, having a kickabout in the garden or doing one of Mr. Beasley’s wonderful challenges. Just do something to elevate your heart rate and you’ll feel better for it. Eat well and healthily. Get a good night’s rest and make sure that your child is doing the same.


Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a dog-person. My dogs form a very important part of my own mental health strategy. I am not saying that everyone should have a dog or a pet for that matter. It is more about the principle – have your own mental health strategy. Caring for another being brings out the best in us. Why not try to schedule a random act of kindness each day this week? It isn’t as difficult as you may think and has a double-benefit to you and the recipient.   


Lastly, you are not alone. We are all struggling with this but there is light at the end of this tunnel and we will get through it.

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