Compassion, empathy & understanding start at an early age and they start with you, as parents, talking and teaching your children about all sorts of things including mental health.
So I was interested to read about a new survey of more than 1,100 parents that found 55% hadn’t spoken about the subject of stress, anxiety, depression or any aspects of mental health issues to their children at all.
Of those parents, 20% said they did not know how to address the issue or how to start the conversation.
The survey results have been released as part of a campaign, funded by the Department of Health, to break down the stigma associated with mental health.
The poll, of parents to children aged between six and 18, was carried out by market research company Opinion Matters on behalf of the Time to Change campaign, which is being run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.
It also found that 45% of parents felt they did not need to have the conversation because mental health “was not an issue”.
‘Generation for change’
One in 10 young people will experience a mental health problem, the campaign claims.
Sue Baker, the director of Time to Change, said: “This has to be the generation for change. Mental health problems are a common experience for three children in every classroom.
“Our research has shown that talking about mental health is still seen as too awkward for many parents and young people and we need to change that in the home, at school, on social media and in wider social circles.”
Last month, a separate survey suggested 62% of youngsters had done a general internet search for depression. And the Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield said youngsters did not have the confidence to go to the doctor with mental health issues.
I encourage all the parents that I work with to always be on the look out for ways to ‘Talk & Teach’ your children about all sorts of important things and discussing, explaining and chatting about mental health should be part of those family conversations – age and stage appropriate of course.
Make mental health part of your everyday conversations even if your child isn’t experiencing any issues, if something does crop up at some point they will feel comfortable coming to talk to you about things which will be a very important part in helping and supporting them.