Children’s Mental and Emotional Health
A child’s mental and emotional health needs to be nurtured and continually strengthened just as much as their physical health, though at times it seems to be ignored. Children are faced with a vast amount of emotions and various other influences throughout their daily lives like school, friends, and family. The amount of development and learning that takes place in the adolescent years is astonishing, so it is essential that children have strong mental and emotional health. This allows them to deal with challenges and adapt when change occurs. It is crucial to consider the importance of focusing on mental and emotional health in children, as well as ways to improve a child’s mental and emotional health, and the long-term impacts that are made by having good versus bad mental and emotional health as children.
By focusing on mental and emotional health in children, there can be drastic increases in the amount of children that are able to build healthy relationships and truly feel good about themselves for who they are (“Kids and Mental Health,” 2017). It is imperative that children have good mental health in order to obtain an overall healthy wellbeing and be able to deal with challenges. As explained on the Pathways to Family Wellness website, “To be truly healthy, a child’s emotional health must be nurtured and strengthened. Developing a mental attitude of wellness is also essential” (Sheppard, 2004). There are many influences that can positively or negatively impact a child’s mental health, largely relating to external factors in their lives, like family and friends, or even school.
Luckily, there are various ways and resources available to improve children’s mental and emotional health if they are struggling. Some of these prevention strategies include eating a well-balanced diet, getting a proper amount of sleep each night, and staying active throughout the day. As a parent, asking your child about what is going on in their life and continually encouraging them to talk about their feelings are a few ways to keep track of their mental and emotional health. In addition, continually be aware of your child’s behaviour and note if any drastic changes have occurred, positive or negative. Children need human and social experiences in order to thrive and to grow into happy and healthy adults, while some children unfortunately do not live with parents who can help to provide that to them (Leiner, Peinado, Villanos, Lopez, Uribe, & Pathak, 2016). Adding to that, “Often, children living with these inequalities are at a higher risk of confronting direct and indirect victimization, which may be just one event in a series of adverse events. The emotional outcome of a child will always reflect the cumulative load of these stressful events” (Leiner, Peinado, Villanos, Lopez, Uribe, & Pathak, 2016).
Mental and emotional health issues that stem from childhood can stick with an individual for their entire life if they do not get the help or have access to the resources that they need. These issues can include relationship problems, eating or body image issues, depression or anxiety, bullying, as well as any kind of abuse (“Kids and Mental Health,” 2017). Along with that, if children are exposed to violence at a young age, it can affect them well into their adulthood. As explained in an article on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, “The effects of indirect exposure to violence affect younger children more than older children, and research indicates that real exposure to war events in children below age 10 increases their risk of developing internalizing disorders in later life” (Leiner, Peinado, Villanos, Lopez, Uribe, & Pathak, 2016). This can be from things such as movies, video games, or the media. As a parent or guardian of a child, it is important to be aware of what your child is watching or playing with and how they are spending their time.
Mental and emotional health in children needs to be as high of a priority as their physical health, and every other dimension of wellness. By children continually improving and being in touch with their emotions and feelings, and further being able to cope with what is happening, it will help more children to be mentally and emotionally well. There are many influences that can negatively impact a child’s mental and emotional health, but by treating it and using the tools and resources necessary to improve can make a substantial difference.
Written by Callie Schapekahm
- Kids and Mental Health. (September, 2017). Retrieved from https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/kids-mental-health
- Leiner, M., Peinado, J., Villanos, M. T., Lopez, I., Uribe, R., & Pathak, I. (2016, March 23). Mental and Emotional Health of Children Exposed to News Media of Threats and Acts of Terrorism: The Cumulative and Pervasive Effects. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4803729/
- Sheppard, J. (2004, March 01). A Wellness Approach for Children. Retrieved from http://pathwaystofamilywellness.org/Wellness-Lifestyle/a-wellness-approach-for-children.html
- Image: https://nswmentalhealthcommission.com.au/resources/galleries/mental-health-and-school-aged-children-journey-3-infographic-1