Your Child and Mental Health

While many adults believe that children live a life of ease, this is certainly not necessarily always true. Your child and mental health is a dynamic world unto it’s own.

Children are not without their own emotional, mental, and physical troubles. Just as with older humans, children are capable of feeling all types of feelings. These include feelings of sadness, hurt, mistrust, anxiety, and anger. In addition, the way that children deal with these feelings can have a huge effect on their emotional health. Children and mental health often reflects greatly on the parental mental health that a child has when he or she become a parent themselves. Kids that grow up in a positive environment are much more likely to be positive adults than those that experience negative emotional mental health during their childhood.

Infant and child mental health establishes a foundation of self-esteem for life.

Children as young as infants are aware of trust and mistrust in others and in self. After a child is only a few months old, their emotional health begins to develop. It is important during infancy that a baby learns he or she can trust the caregiver. The baby needs to know that his or her needs are taken care of when a diaper should be changed or a feeding needs to take place. Infants that go long periods of time without the attention of the caregiver are much more likely not to trust.

Once the infant passes through the stage of placing trust in others, a toddler encounters a stage of emotional mental health called autonomy vs. shame and doubt. During this period, the child needs to feel that he or she is capable of independence. While an infant needed others, toddlers are looking for space to obtain good mental health. When a toddler is not given the opportunity to find independence, he or she often grows up having a lacking self-esteem, feeling ashamed as well as a whole assortment of other mental health issues. Much independence during this stage of life is found through potty training with the toddler taking care of his or her own bathroom needs.

Your child and mental health goes hand in hand with the circumstance of the family environment while growing up.

Initiative verse guilt follows the toddler stage when a child reaches preschool and kindergarten. During this stage, the child emotionally needs to explore others and the world around him or her and begins to become interested in belonging to a group and role-playing within that group. During this stage of life, a person develops much of their background for social interaction. Children who are allowed to explore and interact with others are much more likely to carry over positive social skills into adulthood than those that are secluded from group activities. These others can end up on the opposite side of the spectrum in regards to their social and mental health becoming withdrawn from others.

It is quite apparent that child and adult mental health become synonymous throughout life.

Part of creating a solid foundation in children to carry over into adulthood is allowing children the opportunity to learn how to make choices. Children need to experience the effects that their choices have on their lives. Instead of continually giving a child direction, it is better to give a child options.

When allowed to take some actions into their own hands helps create an emotional mental health framework for the future, Setting boundaries and preparing children for disappointments help children prepare for good mental health and avoidance of mental health issues as an adult. In some cases, children can make choices for themselves. However, children also need to learn that not everything will always be controlled by them. They need to learn to accept the things that they cannot control. A child that learns to cope with disappointment through a caregiver that sets boundaries will grow into an adult with a foundation of more positive emotional mental health than those children that never experience hearing the word “no”. All of this is very critical for child and adolescent development.

While all research indicates that the environment in which a child grows greatly affects his or her emotional mental health, not all parents that fail to properly foster their child’s stages of health are neglectful or bad parents. In fact, many parents struggle with the proper methods they should carry out to help their child grow into a prosperous adult.

Exercise, Physical Activity and Mental Health

Exercise and physical activity play a crucial role in both maintaining one’s mental health condition and in recovering from a mental illness. Breaking research indicates that exercise actually produces a chemical that stimulates the growth of brain cells, thus allowing for recovery from sever substance abuse disorders. Furthermore, physical activity and mental health recovery coincide in fostering a social network and encouraging self-reflection, both of which are crucial on the path to mental health recovery.

The human mind evolved in an environment which required it to travel over twelve miles daily. And no, that drive to work in the morning does not count…but that would make things easier, no? This evolution was due to survival instincts when humans migrated from the jungles into the flatlands. Humans also developed an adrenaline reaction which both encouraged movement and triggered immediate learning reactions; as Doctor Carl Clark from the Mental Health Center of Denver once stated, when early man saw that saber-tooth tiger charging out of the brambles, the neurons must have been firing pretty fast to teach them to stay away from the bushes next time…that is assuming their get away was fast enough to allow for a next time!

This adrenaline rush encouraging learning has become neutralized by the flow of activities in modern western societies, wherein the normal individual is seemingly on a constant, albeit generally unnoticed, adrenaline rush. Consequently, stress levels have continuously been on the rise, consequently decreasing the rate at which an individual learns when in a compromising situation, thus decreasing mental wellness levels.

Physical activity is a huge aid to mental health in the fact that exercise allows for a stress outlet, thus decreasing day-to-day stress, while creating functional adrenaline for the mind. In reality, physical activity is important for mental health due to its role in creating Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF), which is a key factor in the creation of brain cells. The myth of the old days is past; you know the one, where once your brain cells are gone they are gone. Well such is not the case, physical activity and exercise can increase BDNF levels and allow the re-growth of brain cells, consequently making physical activity immensely important for mental illness recovery.

Exercise and mental health further coincide in regards to the alarming statistic that people with mental illnesses, on average, die 20 years sooner than mentally healthy individuals. While there are many factors that go into this involved in substance abuse risk factors, two considerations that one would be remiss to ignore is the fact that those suffering from mental illnesses have a tendency to stagnate and become physically inactive. This has resulted in a large percentage of mental health consumers being considered overweight, which can ultimately result in adult onset diabetes. Diabetes is very dangerous in sedentary individuals who, in a depressant state, care little about taking care of themselves, for such a medical ailment can result in numerous health related issues, some of which can be very serious.

Physical activity and mental illness recovery are highly correlated. In some of the most successful recovery-based treatment facilities one will find strong proponents of mental health consumers engaging in physical activity. These activities also subsidize the development and formation of a support network populated by individuals interested in similar hobbies. Furthermore, exercise can often be a form of active meditation, and as practitioners of Dialectic Behavioral Treatment (DBT) can profess, meditation, including meditation absent any religious connotations (whether it be active or seated), drives self-reflection which is crucial to mental health recovery; for more information on the importance of self-reflection, you can access my article on Spirituality and Hope in Mental Health.

Mental Health Clinics

Clients to mental health clinics are usually not admitted arbitrarily. The process usually consists of an initial interview with a community worker or a mental health professional. If a client is considered in need of residential or out-patient treatment at a mental health clinic, an extensive history of the mental illness will then be recorded. Such assessments will also include interviews with other doctors and family physicians who have noted the onset and progress of the ailment.

The staff at mental health clinics usually consists of psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurses, and support personnel who are specially trained. The scope and activities of mental health clinics in America generally falls under the purview of the CMHC (Community Mental Health Centers). This body issues licenses to clinics and centers for the practice of mental health-related treatment.

Considering that mental health crises do not always announce themselves in advance, a mental health clinic or center usually offers twenty-four-hour emergency services. These include inpatient hospital referral, since many cases are diagnosed in hospitals while the client is under treatment for other health problems.

Mental health problems affect people from all age groups, and American mental health clinics also offer services specifically for the aged as well as children and adolescents. The reasons that commonly lead to a referral for elderly persons range from senile dementia and Alzheimer’s disease to problems related to chronic alcohol abuse. Mental health problems typical to the aged fall under the category of geropsychiatric medicine.

Teenagers and young adults often find themselves in need of mental health services because of substance abuse, inherited mental problems, and Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD).

The services available at mental health clinics necessarily include group therapy, individual and family counseling, and a social awareness cell. The latter would be staffed by personnel who could explain the various issued surrounding metal health in layman’s terms to clients and their families. They are also an integral part of the evaluation process.

Mental Health Therapy – Symptoms And Treatment Of Disorders

Know why mental health is important for every individual. Also know why mental health disorders are caused, what are their consequences and how can they be treated.

Many people avoid getting help for depression or other mental health disorders due to embarrassment or an outdated fear of being stigmatized. Economic Status or Legal Status are important aspects determining the standing of a human being. Being a social animal, a man’s standing in the society is determined by many things, including his mentally stability. This is where Mental Health is critical to a person and much the same way how he would spend time in earning money, time also needs to be spent to tend to any rough edges in his mental health. Seeking assistance when necessary is increasingly understood in our society as a wise and mature decision.

Let’s look at an example. An individual is so rich that he owns large areas of real estate in Florida. To add to his luxury he has his own charter fleet of helicopters. In spite of having an embarrassment of riches, he still continues to be alienated from the society. The only possible reason I can see is that the individual suffers from a mental health disorder. This can include depression, anxiety, personality disorders, etc. In fact, Howard Hughes cut himself off from everyone later in his life most likely due to untreated phobias and depression.

What are the causes of Mental Health Disorders?

Mental Health Disorders are caused due to a variety of reasons. An individual can experience a mental health disorder for the first time due to a tragic event, long term neglect or abuse, a genetic pre-disposition to depression, or even a brain disorder that is medical in nature. The results vary widely and may need a professional to help diagnose and treat, but the most common mental health issue is depression and is experienced by everyone at least once in their lifetime. Those with a genetic pre-disposition to depression or another affective disorder like bipolar disorder, will have multiple incidents and usually require some form of treatment.

What are the consequences of Mental Health Disorders?

The consequences of untreated mental health disorders can be extremely damaging for an individual. At every stage of depression, the individual continues to behave less like themselves. They become more sedentary, less social, thinking it difficult to think clearly and in extreme cases may develop paranoid ideas. In all these scenarios, society tends to keep away from these individuals when perhaps they need others most.

Who are affected by the Mental Health Disorder?

Almost everyone will experience some form of mental health issue during their lifetime. It may be common depression, alcohol or substance abuse, relationship problems, post-traumatic stress or perhaps a more serious chemical or brain disorder. Apart from the individual, the next set of people who are impacted by this are the care-givers and the family members of the individual.

How can a Mental Health Disorder be treated?

One of the most effective methods to treat a mental health disorder is to seek the consultation of a mental health professional or family doctor. Mental health therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and one’s family and social network play a big role in treating an individual suffering from a mental health disorder.

Reclaiming Good Mental Health

What is good mental health? We are all more or less mentally healthy, and this usually varies through our lives especially as we deal with difficult life events, change and so on. Whether we call this psychological wellbeing, happiness, contentment, positive mindset, all these terms relate to good mental health.

With our physical health, it’s part of our everyday discourse to be aspirational. We want to feel physically fit, energetic, strong, balanced in our weight, eating a healthy diet, supple, resilient and not prone to minor ailments. Sure we complain about our problems, and talk about how we can’t do all the things we know we ought to do. We know it’s not easy to stay physically healthy without working at it, especially if we’ve experienced health problems. We know that even if we reach the peak of physical fitness, we can’t maintain this for the rest of our lives without paying attention to it.

Research tells us that good mental health is even more beneficial than good physical health. A positive mental outlook increases the rate and speed of recovery from serious, even life threatening, illness. Psychological resilience and wellbeing gives people the strength to turn problems into challenges into triumphs.

Yet whenever I ask a group of people to tell me what words come into mind in relation to ‘mental health’, their responses are about mental ill-health! It’s as if the term has been hi-jacked to become totally problem-focused.

In the meantime, we’re experiencing an epidemic of mental ill-health. About 1 in 4 people are experiencing some form of common mental health problem such as depression, anxiety and various stress related symptoms. GP surgeries are overwhelmed with such problems, mental health services are only able to provide support for the 1% of the population with much more severe mental health difficulties, and there’s a plethora of largely unregulated services, treatments and remedies out on the private market. A recent research study showed that the majority of long term sickness absence from work resulted from stress related conditions.

The trouble with focusing on the problems and the pain, is that that’s what we become experts in. We’re looking for cures and treatments to fix the problem, instead of focusing on what makes for good mental health. We know that physical health is multi-dimensional – no-one imagines that pumping iron to build your muscles is a recipe for overall physical health, although it will certainly make you stronger for certain activities.

So what are the essentials of good mental health?

Connection is certainly one of the best known. Having positive close relationships is good for our mental health, as is having a wider network of friends, colleagues and acquaintances which will vary over time. Giving to others is another really important aspect of connection, improving our sense of self worth and wellbeing.

Challenge is about learning and development, it’s how we grow. For children, everyday brings new challenges, yet as adults we often become increasingly fearful of change, unwilling to learn new skills or put ourselves in unfamiliar situations. So expanding our comfort zone, sometimes in small ways if we’re feeling particularly vulnerable, will help develop our self-confidence and sense of personal achievement.

Composure means a sense of balance, and ability to distance ourselves from our thoughts and emotions. It means our ability to respond rather than react. This could be described as our sense of spiritual connection, which may come through a particular belief or faith, or may be found through connection with nature. A mentally healthy person will feel an inner strength of spirit, and find ways to support that.

Character relates to the way in which we interpret our experiences and our responses to them. We all have our own personal story, or stories, which we may or may not tell others. We may cast ourselves as the hero, the victim or the villain, and however we do this will impact generally on our mental health. Someone who has experienced severe life trauma may have great difficulty piecing together their story at all, leaving them feeling literally fragmented. Good mental health means having a strong sense of personal values, awareness of our own strengths, skills and resources, and personal stories of learning from mistakes, survival, success and appreciation.