28 June 2022

Mental health conversation starters: 14–18 years

In this time of growth into adulthood, your teen is developing a unique personality and is looking for more independence and responsibility. Teenagers increasingly interact with others through social media and mobile phones. As a result, they may spend less time with family and more time with friends, both online and outside the home. This is also…, Teens can experience, Rapid physical changes which can lead to concerns about body size, shape or weight. Eating problems or concerns. Heightened moodiness and social anxiety. Sadness or depression, which can lead to low self-esteem or other problems.  , More than just feeling blue, Poor mental health in adolescence can go hand-in-hand with other health and behavioural risks, including alcohol or drug use, violent behaviour and unsafe sex. Because many health behaviours and habits carry over from adolescence into adult years, it is very important to support teens in choosing healthy practices that assist their well-being.  , “How are you doing?, You might be getting on well with your teen, or you might be experiencing challenges. Wherever your relationship currently is, it’s important to show that you are always there to help your teen through any tough times with love and support.  , How to start the conversation , Ask them about their day – try to create occasions for a chat like cooking dinner together. Ask open-ended, clarifying questions to understand how they feel. You could try “Could you explain what you mean by…” or “How do you think you would have felt if…” Ask about their opinions and even share your own so that you can understand each other better…, Self-harm, If you are concerned self harm may be an issue, gently raise the subject and try to find out if your teen has ever had thoughts of this. It can help to start by asking about others rather than them, for example, “Some people your age harm themselves, have you ever heard of people doing this from your friends?”. Reassure them that you are always…, Do, Recognize the good along with the bad and praise them for achievements, even small ones. This stage of development is also a time for creativity and personal growth – identify instances of this with your teen. The world feels unpredictable to your teen and they might be struggling to feel in control. Tell them you understand this. Check in on…, Don’t, Take over the discussion and tell them what to do. Ask what you can do to help and work with them to find solutions. Have a discussion when you are angry. Walk away, take a breath and calm down – you can continue the conversation later. Engage in power struggles. Rather than arguing, try to empathize with your teen on their frustrations., Remember: It’s all connected, The good news is that teens are resilient and difficult experiences are part of becoming independent, capable adults. Helping teens feel connected to school, family and friends promotes mental health and prevents a range of negative behaviours, like drug use and violence. Take the time to find ways to support, encourage and engage with your teen.…
28 June 2022

Mental health conversation starters: 11–13 years

As your child enters puberty, they are better able to express their feelings, and have a stronger sense of right and wrong. They can make their own choices about friends, sports and school. With this independence comes a bigger focus on their own personality, interests and friends. They are also undergoing many physical changes like the starting…, A time of change, Rapid physical changes combined with concerns about their appearance and the importance of friendships can affect a child’s mental and emotional well-being. It can be a challenging time for children as they navigate this important stage of development. Knowing that they can talk to you about their worries or problems can make a world of difference…, Children at this age can, Experience moodiness – going back and forth between highs and lows. Feel burdened by schoolwork. Develop eating problems/concerns. Feel sad or anxious which can lead to lack of confidence, low self-esteem and other issues depending on the child.  , How to start the conversation , Make the time and space to start the conversation without any pressure or expectations. Consider a time like while doing chores, cooking or while travelling together. Let the conversation flow naturally – be conversational rather than ‘questioning’. Be sensitive to their mood – if they are having a bad day or are busy, choose a different time.  , Open, honest and direct communication, If you notice changes in your child’s mood or behaviour, gently let them know you’ve noticed and ask if they would like to talk about it. For example: They don’t seem as sociable with their friends as before – did they have an argument? Their school grades go down – is there a particular subject they’re struggling with? They appear to have become…, Do, Listen: Actively try to listen to what they are saying without letting your thoughts and judgement guide the conversation. Respect and encourage your child’s opinion. Acknowledge: Assure them that you understand their thoughts and feelings, encourage them to be open with you and reassure that you are there for them. Remind them that you were this…, Don’t, Tell them what they should do. Instead, ask how you can help them. Dismiss or minimize their feelings. Remember, it is hard to open up about feelings which may be confusing for the child. Argue. Observe your own thoughts and feelings and watch out for conflict. Try and resolve any conflicts or arguments as soon as possible if this happens,…, Remember: Patience and consistency are key, At this age, your child might be expressing less affection towards you and sometimes seem rude or short-tempered. As they become more independent and want to be more in control, chances are you will encounter resistance from them at times. These conversations are new and can sometimes be uncomfortable for your child. Remember, it may take some…
28 June 2022

Mental health conversation starters: 6–10 years

As your child starts school, their physical, mental and social skills are developing rapidly. They are learning to describe experiences and talk more about their emotions. Friendships and peer pressure start becoming more important as they shift their focus from home to the world outside. By spending more time outside home, your child is gaining a…, Time to check in, Starting school brings children face-to-face with the outside world and is a major life event! It is a critical time for children to develop confidence in all areas of life, such as navigating relationships, learning at school and sports, and managing their emotions. Checking in on how they’re doing and supporting them along the way can help them…, How to start the conversation, Start by asking how they’re doing. Talk to your child about school, friends, the things they like and dislike doing and what they find difficult. Use everyday events that cause positive and negative emotions – like winning at sports or scoring low grades – to check in on how your child feels and to forge a strong bond with them. As they get older…, Maintain an open, trusting and loving environment, Help your child feel comfortable about opening up to you. Your child wants to be liked and accepted by people around them. Being accepted by you is the first step toward building confidence. Be mindful of the examples you set. Your child looks to you and picks up on your emotions and how you respond to different situations. Recognize their…, Remember: Your time is a precious gift for your child, Saying “I love you” or hugging your child are not the only ways to show affection. Really listen and show a genuine interest in what they have to say. Have fun together with special activities no matter how small. Include them in family decisions like what to eat for dinner. Let them know that you love them no matter what, even when they make…
28 June 2022

How to prepare your child for a lifetime of positive mental health: 0–5 years

From the first smile and first step to experiencing a whole range of emotions, your child is passing many important childhood milestones. This is a time of growth and learning and an ideal time to start supporting your child’s mental well-being., Laying the foundations for a happy and healthy life, Your child looks to you for love, learning and safety. Try to spend as much quality time together as possible. Fostering a warm and tender relationship, and helping your child feel safe and cared for, go a long way to laying the groundwork for a lifetime of good mental health., Babies, Spending quality time with your child is good for both of you. It even releases natural hormones that help you bond with your baby and enhance well-being for both of you! Play with them, cuddle them. Talk to them, sing to them. Respond to their sounds with words so they can begin to understand language and communication., Toddlers, As your child starts to move around more, their desire to explore is increasing. This curiosity needs nurturing and encouragement. Read to your child (every day if you can). Play games that engage their curiosity and learning. Ask your child to name things – start with their name and objects around them, keep it simple. Explore the surroundings…, Pre-schoolers, As your child grows more independent and curious, they will want to explore the world outside and learn about the things around them. Interactions with people will help them develop their own ways of thinking and understand the world around them. Encourage social interaction through play with other children. Invite them to help you with simple age…, What to look out for, Young children are learning how to express themselves and manage big emotions. This can sometimes cause anger or stress when they cannot communicate their needs. When children feel stressed or overwhelmed, they need a loving adult to help reassure them and help them to navigate their feelings., Avoid..., Any form of violence, including shouting and hitting. When a child lives in a negative environment it can cause “toxic stress” – harming the child’s growth and development – as well as long term problems in later life. Frequent arguments between parents and people around the child. Tension in the environment can be stressful for children – they…, Remember: Take care of yourself as well, Whether you are a parent of a baby or toddler, you will experience a wide range of emotions at different times – this is normal. Emotions include joy, frustration, fatigue and nervousness. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, take time to manage your own stress. Make sure you’ve got good social support around you. Try to have some alone time, so you can…
29 September 2021

Ten mental health and well-being tips for teachers

As schools reopen, it is important to prioritise and commit to taking care of your mental health and well-being – this helps you to have more positive energy for yourself, your students and their families. Here are 10 tips on how you can do it!, Set aside time to unwind, Think about what helps lift your mood and gets you through stress – whether it is playing with your children, going for a walk, talking to your friends, taking care of your plants,  reading a book or cooking a new recipe. Keep some space to relax. These activities are as important as your working hours. It’s about allowing yourself to feel…, Plan ahead, As schools reopen, there could be a million things on your mind on how to engage with students and help them with the transition. Make a list of all your tasks and activities for the day or week early on. Use a day planner or notebook to plan your week. Set small goals and take appropriate breaks. It will help you plan your time better and…, Set boundaries, The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in increased stress levels in the lives of many teachers with a new way of teaching, personal health and family issues. Whether you are teaching online or in the classroom, you are continually taking care of students’ needs throughout the day. Make sure to set boundaries to have ‘me’ time, be with family, or…, Get vaccinated, Get vaccinated when it’s your turn. Getting vaccinated will protect you from severe COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and death and can alleviate the safety concerns of being back in schools. It will also protect your family, your students and their families. You will be required to keep taking precautions after vaccination, but feeling safer…, Adjust your expectations, This is a period of adjustment for everyone and keep things in perspective. You can only control certain things and circumstances during the transition period in your classroom. Don’t pressurise yourself to provide the same learning experiences as the pre-lockdown period. You are one single professional and doing your best to adapt to change. As…, Acquire new skills and appreciate the ones you already have, Teachers, across the globe, were largely unprepared to support the continuity of learning mostly because of limited digital skills. Acquiring and mastering new skills will help you in the professional journey and will provide greater confidence and comfort in work. You can sign up for online courses, virtual workshops, webinars, or watch videos to…, Be kind to yourself, If you are feeling overwhelmed, share your feelings with another teacher, friend or family member. Having a conversation with your supervisor or senior school leader will help them understand you and offer support. Remember, a healthy relationship will have a positive influence on the children you are teaching., Stay socially connected, You can keep yourself physically apart to limit the spread of the virus, but it is important that you stay emotionally and socially connected with your friends, family and colleagues. Celebrate happy occasions over video calls, engage in virtual working groups or join online book clubs. When seeing others, prefer outdoor activities, and use masks…, Get your body moving, Physical activity is proven to be a powerful fighter to navigate stress and anxiety. With regular exercise, you can feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories and feel more relaxed and positive about yourself. Even a short 10 minutes brisk walking boosts our mood and can give an enormous sense of well-…, Seek mental health support if needed, Take care of your mental health and well-being and seek mental health support if you have signs of depression, anxiety, and burnout. Feeling tired and unhappy is not the same as being depressed. The major signs of depression, anxiety, burnout, and other mental health problems that need specialised mental health attention include fatigue and sleep…