Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month
When it comes to keeping kids safe, we try to leave no stone unturned. We’ve discussed potential physical harm, including everything from baby-proofing your home to sunscreen safety. However, keeping our kids safe also includes being mindful of their mental health. For this reason, let’s not overlook the fact that May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
It’s important to remember that this counts for everyone. Children’s mental health is just as important as adults. Join us for a closer look.
Mental Health Awareness Month
When it comes to total health, mental health is as important as physical health. Mental Health Awareness Month began in the United States in 1949 thanks to the Mental Health America organization. Each year, during the month of May, the country works to spread awareness of both adult’s and children’s mental health.
Here are some useful data points about mental health that may help you to spread awareness:
- 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year.
- 1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year.
- 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year.
- 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24.
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-34.
As you can see, kids are, sadly, well represented in these numbers. Believe it or not, children’s mental health is a serious problem. Especially after this past year, we should all be working to help as much as possible.
Exploring Children’s Mental Health
Adolescence is a difficult time for young people. However, while depression can always loom heavily over our lives, 2020 has been particularly harsh. Parents may want to pay special attention to their children’s potential feelings of alienation during this time.
Put plainly, the number of adolescents reporting poor mental health issues is increasing. According to the CDC, more than one in three high school students have experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in 2019, a 40 percent increase since 2009. Under lockdown, these numbers are very likely to rise.
Childhood mental disorders affect many children of all ages and ethnic backgrounds and throughout the United States.
Understanding the Dangers
Children’s mental health is much more than simply having a bad day or feeling blue. It can affect major aspects of anyone’s life, including relationships, school and grades. In some situations, this can even affect physical health.
Since many habits and health behaviors are established during youth, poor mental health can carry on into later life. For this reason, children’s mental health is of paramount concern.
COVID and Mental Health
To make matters worse, this past year has been particularly stressful for kids. As we all realize, this was no mere cold and flu season. Both children and adults suffered in isolation during 2020. Socialization, which was lacking for many, is crucial for proper development.
Beyond education, school provides opportunities for kids to engage in both social and physical activities. Many kids play sports on their school’s teams. They belong to clubs. They see their friends regularly. These stress-relieving activities have vanished in the past year. As things return to normal, extracurricular activities are crucial for maintaining children’s mental health.
Taking Steps to Help
So what can parents do during these times? Well, above all, a nurturing parent knows their children best. To start, keep an eye on your child’s behavior. Engage in conversations about their feelings and activities. Hosting family dinner around the table can also help.
If you have any concerns about your child’s mental health, consider reaching out to a professional. A proper support network can do wonders for keeping kids both healthy and in good spirits. To learn more, visit the CDC’s page on mental health.