In honour of #BellLetsTalk which happened this past week; we decided that we wanted to help spread some mental health awareness as well. We understand that as parents, there are certain topics that can feel daunting and unapproachable. However, we are here to give you some tips and tricks on how to help spread mental health awareness, and how to recognize the “red flags” that a child or teen may show.
In last week’s blog post, we spoke about how A Picture of an Egg is Ruining Your Teen’s Life. In that post, we discussed the impact that social media has on teens. However, we feel that it is important to be able to recognize if your teen is struggling with their mental health. In order to promote mental health awareness, it is important to inform yourselves on various topics regarding mental health. The more informed we are on such issues, the less taboo there is revolving around mental health.
Promote Positive Mental Health Habits in Technology
We briefly discussed healthy phone habits for your teen in our previous blog post, however, if you don’t want to head over there, we can provide an overview here. Essentially, phones have become an extension of your teens hand, but it shouldn’t be that way. Here’s how you can stop it:
- No Cell Phones in the Bedroom
I’m certain that we can all remember a time where we used our landlines at an inappropriate time. Now, imagine having a device that gives you access to everything and anything at all hours of the night. There is no real reason for your teen to have their cell phones in their rooms. So eliminate it from the get-go by implementing this rule.
- No Cell Phones during Family Time
Sometimes it’s good to disconnect from your devices and connect with real people. When I was a teen, we had a “charging station” at the entrance of our house; we walk in, drop our phones at the charging station, and leave it alone for the rest of the evening. But if you don’t want to have to sacrifice your phone for the whole night, you can always just implement it during certain times of the day.
- Turn Off your Wi-Fi at Night
Your teen won’t appreciate this one, so don’t tell them we suggested this. But if all else fails – turn your wi-fi off. Most basic data plans have limits, and no teen wants to go over their data limit, which forces them to put the phone down. If they make the decision to go over their data limit, let them know that they will be paying for it.
Promote Positive Mental Health Habits in Life
Here are a few ways to help promote a healthy lifestyle:
- Promote a healthy diet
- Promote healthy sleep habits
- Exercise with your teen
- Limit screen time
- Acknowledge your teen’s feelings
- Talk to them and promote a healthy dialogue
- Support their education
What to Do if Your Teen is Struggling
If you aren’t sure what to look out for when keeping an eye on your teen’s mental health, these are some of the basics:
- A change in sleeping patters
- Decline in academic performance
- Noticeable weight loss or weight gain
- Intense and frequent mood swings
- Loss of interest in friends and hobbies
Maintaining an open and honest dialogue with your teen is always important. It helps your teen feel safe and well supported. Additionally, allow them to express themselves openly, and be sure to create a safe environment to share in. A zone that is free of judgment, free of harm, and completely confidential. Help your teen/child understand that they are not alone, and that it is normal to feel these feelings. Do not tell your child what they should do to feel better, simply ask what they need from you in order to feel better about their stresses and anxieties.
If your child or someone else’s child shares thoughts of self-harm or suicide, it is important to take it very seriously. With suicide being one of the leading causes of death in teens and young adults, it is important to treat every case with urgency. For more information on how to help in these cases, consult the Canada Suicide Prevention Service.
An important part about mental health is mental health awareness. This means that we as individuals not only need to educate ourselves, but we also need to educate others. Once there is no stigma or taboo around mental illness, we can help create a space of acceptance and guidance for those who are suffering from their illnesses.
Additionally, if someone else’s child approaches you with their feelings, make sure to remain as open and supportive as you would for your own child. Promoting mental health awareness means spreading mental health awareness. We all have a role to play when it comes to educating others. Be the change you want to see in other people’s mentalities. And above all else, stay positive, and remain open minded.
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