May 7th is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day – a day focused on the importance of supporting every child’s mental, emotional, and behavioral well-being. ADHD, anxiety, behavioral problems, and depression are the most diagnosed mental disorders in the U.S. among children, with some of these commonly occurring together.

Unfortunately, we have seen the rates of these conditions increase over time. And consequently, increased depression and anxiety in children have also led to increased reports of negative and dangerous outcomes such as substance abuse and suicide. Let’s work together to raise awareness of the importance of mental health in children by starting with our own kids. Here are some ways you can help your child with their ability to maintain well-being and live productively.

Normalize conversations about emotions

Eliminating the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health starts at home. Many older adults may recall that conversations about feelings were not common in their household when they were growing up. We can close this generational gap by normalizing discussions about mental health.

Your children will be more likely to talk about their feelings, good and bad, when they know that they have a safe environment to express themselves. Become your child’s role model when it comes to talking about emotions. Describe your feelings of anger, happiness, or sadness in everyday situations, such as how you felt when your favorite team lost or you were praised at work. However, be mindful of the topics you choose to talk about and align them with your child’s age and maturity. Naturally, adult issues should not burden your children.

PRO TIP: A good way to start conversations about feelings with younger children is to watch their favorite shows with them. Their favorite characters may express many emotions, giving you the opportunity to ask your child about those feelings and if they’ve ever felt them.

Participate in family therapy

As parents, we struggle with our own fears, insecurities, and negative emotions. Having a child doesn’t automatically equip us with all the skills and experience to talk to them about sensitive issues, particularly with challenges we did not have growing up. After all, today’s kids struggle with problems that didn’t exist during our time, such as cyberbullying or screen time.

Because of the internet, they have easy access to content and media that can be both educational and harmful. This increased accessibility and connectivity can be empowering for kids; unfortunately, it can also cause kids to disconnect emotionally from the people they live with. It’s understandable if you are a parent who feels lost as you try to connect with your child who seems to speak an entirely different language.

PRO TIP: Close these generational and communication gaps with family therapy. Family therapy can help increase understanding between family members. By participating in counseling as a family, your child will feel that you support them entirely no matter what behavioral, psychological, and emotional challenges they are experiencing.

To learn more about the different approaches to family therapy, click here to learn more about our services.

If you have an emergency, please call 911, go to your nearest emergency room or call 1-866-837-7521 to be connected to Communicare’s mobile crisis team, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.