Alicia Drummond, our In-House Parenting & Mental Health Expert, shares some great things you can do to protect your children’s mental health and wellbeing.
For me, a new year is like opening the first page of a new notebook. It is a clear, fresh start full of opportunity and so it was an unwelcome beginning to 2020 to read last week’s news highlighting the mental health crisis in young people. It’s shocking to read that some young people are attempting suicide to be seen by mental health services and whilst investment in support is vital, it is largely reactive.
It is time to focus on prevention so I thought I would start 2020 with a list of the top things you can do to help your children:
- What we eat affects how we feel. There is increasing evidence linking our gut health with our mental health and anxiety and depression in particular. We will be releasing a podcast on this soon but in the meantime the advice is: Eat the rainbow and change the rainbow regularly eg – Monday-tomatoes, Tuesday-red peppers, Wednesday-red grapes.
- Sleep is essential for mental health. Establish good bedtime routines for younger children and encourage teenagers to establish their own. End screen time an hour before bed; lower lighting to encourage the production of melatonin; warm baths to lower core body temperature; read a book.
- If possible walk to school. Morning light aids a restful night and walking increases levels of creativity.
- Exercise – 20 minutes of exercise reduces cortisol levels for up to 24 hours.
- Facilitate face to face socialising to promote production of the happy hormone, oxytocin.
- Take the pressure off – focus on effort and persistence rather than outcome.
- Listen to understand.
- Eat as a family as often as you can – this is possibly the greatest gift you can give your children.
We want 2020 to be the year in which we see positive news stories about child and adolescent mental health which is why we have also collaborated with STEER. Their AS Tracking tool is an early-warning system designed by scientists to identify young people’s risks when they are still hidden. The Teen Tips online training helps staff and parents to create emotionally healthy environments for young people and gives them the tools to address an issue when it is identified by AS Tracking rather than waiting for a referral to a clinical specialist. Self-harm rates have been reduced by 20% in schools using AS Tracking and, with over 90% of staff who have completed the Teen Tips training saying that it has made them more confident in their pastoral role, we believe this collaboration represents the Gold Standard in pastoral care. To find out more visit: https://www.teentips.co.uk/teen-tips-as-tracking/
Alicia is a therapist accredited with the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy; she is also a pastoral care consultant working with over 100 schools in the UK and abroad and, perhaps most importantly, is a parent.Teen Tips Courses, Talks and Workshops are designed to give information, advice and practical tips and tools to help you to help teenagers fulfil their potential.Visit her website for more information here www.teentips.co.uk/