Did you know that how we, as parents, view mental health is an important factor in our kids wellness? Our opinion on the validity of mental health and the importance or lack of importance bear great weight. How so? It impacts how willing our young people are to seek help. If they struggle with things like anxiety or depression it may cause them to question their sanity. Self image and self esteem weigh in the balance. There is no over stressing how important our view on mental health is for our kids. Our outlook and encouragement holds great importance. It can often be the key in what has our kids take that step to either receive or reject personal help. Wow! Think about that. That’s a heavy roll we play!
The truth is….
How receptive would you be to counseling if there were signs that your young person may need to chat with someone? Would you be open or resist their prompting?
The reality is that being a kid in today’s world is NOT what it was like when we were kids. We’re seeing skyrocketing rates of anxiety and depression. I believe there are multiple factors connected to this, but the reality is that hurt / pain is ever present and HOW we feel about it has a SUPER influence on how our kids respond to either seeking or receiving different forms of help.
Our perception of mental health is often influenced by our past experiences. Whether as a kid, our own parents mindset or an actual experience it has a role on our own outlook. This can be either positive or negative.
How important our view on Mental Health is for our kids…
What do you think about mental health? Do you believe that anxiety disorders, depression, addiction, family issues, trauma and other things are kids contend with are the real deal?
- Is counseling a positive?
- Do you believe that whether it’s a chemical imbalance or a season of struggle, these serious challenges exist?
Did you know that your kids, spouse, loved ones read into how YOU perceive counseling, mental health issues. If you think it’s a farce, that it’s ineffective or their struggles are not valid it does damage to their willingness to seek help. It can cause them to question the realness of their own issues.
Some ‘no-no’s’ ….
- If we take on outlooks that counseling is for crazy people, that it is ineffective, that it’s not for ‘people like us’ we attach shame and inadequacy to counseling
- When we use it as a tool for punishment we’re kicking ourselves in the butt. If you do that again.. you’re going to counseling. Don’t make me take you to a counselor — here it is nothing but a negative — there’s no way anyone is sitting down super stoked to get their stuff out there to someone viewed as a punishment.
- middle school/high school are the IDEAL times for self maintenance with our kids
- if you notice red flags, it’s ok to address it: (isolation, change of friends, lack of interests, inability to connect with peers/family, etc., seem sad/anxious ongoing, self harm)
If we think counseling and mental health struggles are an embarrassment our kids will see it as that. The snow ball effect often kicks in. Help is put of while issues and struggles escalate. They will only improve in hiding their hurts more effectively. Words and body language are powerful. Our outlook weighs heavily on their view of themselves if and when they are struggling. It’s ok to take time to reassess our own view points and grade ourselves on our openness. There is always room and opportunity for growth and improvement. That’s a beautiful thing!
A step in the right direction is to give our kids the green light that this topic is not off limits. To be able to broach whether they are in a good or not so good place being able to dialogue is important. There are ways to increase their comfort level. We start with baby steps. What can we do?
Here are some super duper easy ways to add this to the dialogue.
- In a movie/tv show if someone is struggling with a mental health issue ask them what they think of the situation/ character?
- Ask your child if they have ever had a friend that they’ve been concerned about with being sad/ depressed/ anxious/ home stuff? What did they do? Did that person connect with a counselor? Were their parents ok with it or not?
- Chat about what they would do if they felt overwhelmed, in a funky place / situation. Remind them they can chat with you.
These are just a few simple, low key ways to begin the dialogue with mental health stuff. I can promise you by the time your young person graduates high school they will have someone in their life they are (or were) concerned about. They just may not share that with you until you ask or they feel like they can broach it.
If you feel like your young person could benefit from chatting with someone it’s ok to ask around with friends, family member for recommendations. It’s removing any negative stigmas with counseling any making it approachable, healthy and perfectly normal. Take the time (but not too much time:) to research and find the right, qualified, objective person. Whether this is for you, your spouse, kid, family member, etc. advocate for you.
Mental health is real. Our outlook and openness on the subject is important. When we take a step forward and are willing to be present and encourage help it sets the foundation for our kids. Our green light to say it’s ok, goes so very far. Let’s get our green light in gear and our supportive hats on. One step at a time, but one step in the right direction.
Wishing you a week of peace, love & wellness!