Why the conversation around mental health and wellbeing needs to include children
Society is shifting, and so is the stigma around mental health. We are entering a new cultural era that is more open and conscious about discussing our wellbeing. Where we once prioritised our physical health, our mental health is slowly being seen as equally important.
That is not to say there isn’t a long way to go. Those of us who talk about our wellbeing as adults are able to identify and communicate our emotional health relatively well. We are equipped with a fundamental understanding of what is going on in our minds and bodies, and we rarely consider how, why or when we learned to recognise those things. Those of us who don’t talk about our wellbeing tend to suffer in silence or become anxious or depressed – whether it’s through a lack of self-awareness, an inability to introspect, or feelings of isolation and/or shame causing us to bottle up our feelings. However, we all know talking helps, whether we actively choose to do so or not.
Ultimately, our learned behaviours and the environment in which we’re raised defines whether we engage in our wellbeing or not. None of us are born with a natural ability to identify and communicate our needs (parenting would be a lot easier if we were!) Instead, children are often associated with adjectives such as ‘carefree,’ ‘vivacious’ and ‘energetic.’ Wellbeing is often seen as an adult-only issue due to the aging process, greater responsibilities, work/life stress and general jadedness that contribute to poorer life satisfaction, and adults seem to forget how children can also suffer from mental health issues.
It’s dated thinking, and it needs to change. That’s why EqualEngineers is supporting Place2Be this month – a children’s mental health charity that focusses on the importance of looking after our emotional wellbeing from an early age. 1 in 8 children and young people have a diagnosable mental health condition1, and we need to raise awareness of this important issue to empower children and young people to identify and express their wellbeing needs early on. Place2Be’s ‘FIND YOUR BRAVE’ campaign is about accepting how bravery comes in all shapes and sizes. What makes someone brave is unique to them, and it’s about teaching children and young people to identify their fears and overcome them – be it asking for help or stepping outside their comfort zone.
To ensure wellbeing and mental health is a conversation that never stops, it needs to be intrinsically rooted in our society. That means education and schools need to teach children how to recognise their thoughts and feelings, what they might mean, and how they can be managed or overcome. Empowering children and young adults by helping them understand that even our negative thoughts and feelings are telling us something – that they should not to be buried out of shame or fear – we can start to address children’s mental health in an open and more impactful way. Equipping children with the tools to manage their wellbeing and mental health will have long-term benefits that help them become happier and more confident adults.
EqualEngineers are proud to be supporting Place2Be’s Children’s Mental Health Week, which runs from the 3rd to the 9th of February. If you’d like to show your support or learn more, you can find them at childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk.
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- Digital NHS. Mental Health of Children and Young People in England. Source link: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/mental-health-of-children-and-young-people-in-england/2017/2017