Nursery & Child Care

What Can You do if You're Worried?

A child being emotionally healthy is key for a child’s development and is a huge part of the adult that they will become. Having good mental health is important for children and helps them with problem solving, managing their emotions, managing their behaviours as well as supporting their resilience.

“Emotional well-being for children is just as important as their physical health” (Mental health foundation, 2016) which is why it is key to promote your child’s well-being.

Mainstone-Cotton (2017) states that “one of the most important roles we have as adults is to help children have good well-being, and the start of that is helping children to know that they are loved, they are special, and they are unique individuals.” Promoting children’s emotional well-being is important and this article will tell you a little bit about why and how.

Why is Good Mental Health for Children Important?

Mental health problems affect about 1 in 10 children and young people. Although this may be frightening for parents and carers, this is the reality of how children’s’ emotional health is impacted. It is key therefore that you as a parent or carer have some understanding in this area.

It is important for caregivers to understand how children are impacted by both “normal” stress and traumatic stress both mentally and physically (Grasso, 2013). Something important then is parents and carers having the ability to reflect and identify any past trauma or life experiences that may now or in the future impact on their children’s emotional well-being. It is important to note however that every child’s resilience is different and whilst some children may be impacted by one experience, that same experience may not impact on another child. Our children are unique and we should be experts in knowing and understanding our children inside out so that we are able to support them as best as possible.

It is important to do further research however below is some important information about signs and risk factors that you may want to look out for.
What are the warning signs for children’s mental health?

NSPCC (2020) state that common warning signs for parents and carers to look out for includes:

• sudden mood and behaviour changes
• self-harming
• unexplained physical changes, such as weight loss or gain
• sudden poor academic behaviour or performance
• sleeping problems
• changes in social habits, such as withdrawal or avoidance of friends and family.

What can Impact on a Child's Mental Health?

There are a number of aspects that can impact upon a child’s emotional health and that may put your child at a higher risk of experiencing some mental health concern.
Some of these factors include:

• having a long-term physical illness
• having a parent who has had mental health problems, problems with alcohol or has been in trouble with the law
• experiencing the death of someone close to them
• having parents who separate or divorce
• having been severely bullied or physically or sexually abused
• living in poverty or being homeless
• experiencing discrimination, perhaps because of their race, sexuality or religion
• acting as a carer for a relative, taking on adult responsibilities
• having long-standing educational difficulties.

(Mental Health Foundation, 2016)

Whilst this article has provided you with are some of the signs and risk factors for you to look at, it is important that if you do feel that your child may need support that you seek this support where necessary. Do not assume that if you see these signs or that if your child has gone through any of the experiences outlined in the risk factors that your child is automatically suffering from difficulties with their mental health. It is important however to treat emotional health the same as a physical health need.