January is said to be the most depressing month for some people as they find themselves going back to reality after all the merrymaking. This is why January is also designated as Mental Wellness Month, putting importance on starting the year mentally healthy.
While mental wellness is typically associated with adults, clinicians around the world are recognizing that mental wellness and mental health issues affect children too. In fact, there is a growing mental health crisis in children with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating that 20% of the world's children and adolescents suffer from various mental health conditions.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) further identifies attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety or having fears and worries, behaviour disorders, and depression, as among the common mental disorders observed in children.
The WHO defines mental wellness as the "state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community."
In children, being mentally healthy means being able to function well at home, in school, and in their communities as they have developed the necessary learning, emotional, and social skills, said the CDC.
On the flip side, children with mental disorders can exhibit aberration in the way they learn, behave, or handle their emotions. Children with ADHD, for instance, find it difficult to pay attention and stay focused on tasks. And, because they are not able to keep focused, they also tend to have problems following instructions. Children living with ADHD also struggle with regulating their emotions, affecting their ability to interact socially with other children. These struggles affect their overall school life and development, thus, it is important for parents to do their best to set their child up to be mentally healthy and does well not just in school but also in life.
How does one improve children's mental health? Here are some tips:
- Provide a safe, stable, and nurturing environment. Providing a safe and secure place to live, providing physical and emotional care and support, and setting clear and consistent boundaries all contribute to your child's positive development.
- Encourage healthy habits by modeling them yourselves. Eating healthy, getting regular exercise, and getting enough sleep are all good habits that can boost not only one's physical health but also one's mental health.
- Support your child's social and emotional development. Encouraging your child to express their feelings (actively listening to them and without judgment) helps them develop their emotional and social skills, and consequently, their relationships with others.
- Encourage your child's interests and passions. Allowing your child to discover and pursue their interests and passions sets them up for developing new skills and abilities and in turn develops their brain.
- Seek help if needed. Don't hesitate to approach a mental health professional if you are concerned about your child's mental health. These professionals would suggest the appropriate solution for your child. Early intervention such as Neeuro's Cogo attention training program can be very beneficial in supporting a child's mental wellness and can reduce the likelihood of bringing issues into adulthood. Cogo, a scientifically validated program, trains children to sustain their attention and develop their inhibition control. It is a game-based digital therapeutics (DTx) that came out of a decade of clinical trials with children with ADHD. In Cogo, the child makes the game's avatar move by just focusing, a mental state that is picked up by Neeuro's SenzeBand, which the child wears while training, making it fun and interactive.
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