Supporting Children’s Mental Health
Written by Junior Genius Global
With 1 in 5 children experiencing mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression, now is the time to reshape how we think about education and place wellness and wellbeing practices at the forefront of education to support children’s mental wellbeing.
Mental health is the overall wellness of how you think, regulate your feelings, and behave. A mental illness, or mental health challenge, is defined as patterns or changes in thinking, feeling, or behaving that cause distress or disrupt a person's ability to function. Mental health disorders in children are generally defined as delays or disruptions in developing age-appropriate thinking, behaviours, social skills, or regulation of emotions. These problems are distressing to children and disrupt their ability to function well at home, in school or in other social situations.
Childhood and adolescence are critical stages of life for mental health. This is a time when rapid growth and development take place in the brain. Children and adolescents acquire cognitive and social-emotional skills that shape their future mental health and are important for assuming adult roles in society.
Children can struggle with a range of issues as they grow up. Some of the common mental health-related issues they experience include depression, anxiety, eating or body issues, relationship problems or feelings of self-harm.
When the pandemic hit in 2020 and turned our world upside down and we found ourselves in lockdown, two things became abundantly clear: We needed to find activities to keep our children occupied and happy in the safety of our own home and most importantly, that being in good health both physically and mentally is critical for our children’s wellbeing.
To support children in reaching their full potential and tackling any health challenges they experience, we need to support them in developing resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and help them to grow into well-rounded healthy adults.
By including activities rooted in the 6 Pillars of Wellness we can help children to be healthy both physically and mentally.
The 6 Pillars of Wellness as defined by the Global Wellness Institute include:
- Physical: Nourishing a healthy body through exercise, nutrition, and sleep.
- Mental: Engaging the world through learning, problem-solving, and creativity.
- Emotional: Being aware of, accepting and expressing our feelings, and understanding the feelings of others.
- Spiritual: Searching for meaning and higher purpose in our lives.
- Social: Connecting and engaging with others and our communities in meaningful ways.
- Environmental: Fostering positive interrelationships between planetary health and human actions, choices, and wellbeing.
Incorporating nurturing and responsive experiences, rooted in The Pillars is the key to supporting mental wellbeing and positive or negative experiences can add up to shape a child’s development and can have lifelong effects. When a child has good mental health, it allows them to develop self-confidence, self-esteem, manage and understand their emotions and develop a healthy outlook on life. Learning these skills is not always easy and takes practice, especially if your child has a mental health challenge like depression or anxiety. To teach our children these skills, parents and caregivers need support and the right resources.
At Junior Genius Global, we've developed a Home Wellness Collection, which is a collection of wellness activities for young children, to develop and support their physical and mental wellbeing and to relieve any stress and anxieties they may experience. The collection includes children’s story books with important messages about gratitude and emotions, yoga, breathwork and daily affirmation activities, massage balms to aid sleep and relaxation, healthy nutritious recipes, routine, and schedule planners to make the day predictable for children and much more.
The Home Wellness Collection is for young children and includes training and support for parents and caregivers in how to deliver the wellness activities at home, but also giving parents a deeper understanding of how to support their child’s mental wellbeing.
With the latest research saying our next generation will live above 110, Junior Genius Global believe that by introducing wellness through our Home Wellness Collection, we will create healthier future generations. The collection provides our children with the tools, practices, and routines they need to live a happy, healthy lifestyle and that if they do experience a mental health challenge, they have the skills to deal with it appropriately.
As a parent, if you are concerned about your child’s mental health, you can start by talking with others who frequently interact with your child. For example, ask their teacher about your child’s behaviour in school, nursery or on the playground. You can talk with your child’s paediatrician or health care provider and describe the child’s behaviour, as well as what you have observed and learned from talking with others.