2022 Child Mental HealthCebu City, Nancy Ucag-Cudis, MIND 7 VP for Social Media — Mental health is the state of an individual’s psychological and emotional well-being that affects how a person acts and thinks. It is often driven by mood disorders such as bipolar, anxiety, and personality disorders. 

The common factors of poor mental health are social isolation and loneliness, as well as neglect, childhood abuse, and trauma that ripples down and affects the interpersonal relations of people with their families and peers.

It is important to note that mental health does not only manifest in adults, but it is also very much a part of children around the world. 

Globally, in estimation, more than 13% of adolescents live with varying degrees of mental disorders — something that has alarmingly reflected concerns about the mental stability of a new generation of children since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. 

According to a joint project between UNICEF and the Global Early Adolescent Study conducted in 13 countries and across 71 focus group discussions, children (ages 10–19) were asked about the greatest behavioral and emotional challenges that they had encountered, and many of them answered “unsupportive families.”

The lockdowns have severely wounded these youngsters' mental health, a serious impact based on their surroundings; thus, parents are urgently called to provide support and take part in a comprehensive approach to promote good mental health for every child.

This call is reinforced in November as the Philippines observes National Children’s Month, per Republic Act 10661, Section 3 which highlights and seeks to promote and protect children’s rights. Yes, mental health is a human right! Everyone has the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

So what can parents do to help promote good mental health and support the well-being of their children? 

1. Start and build a good foundation at home. A warm and nourishing environment will help your children have groundwork toward a happier and healthier life. Foster a loving relationship with your children to let them feel they are cared for. 

2. Monitor your child’s emotions. Constantly ask them about their daily lives by trying to let them communicate how they feel (both positive and negative). This way, checking in on them would create a strong bond between you and your child. 

3. Listen and understand their needs. Change is inevitable, especially as your child goes through puberty. In this stage, actively try to understand their thoughts without judging them, and, as much as possible, correct them with respect and consideration.

4. Let them know they could trust you and vice versa. Independence could go a long way in your child’s development, but your intervention is still much appreciated. Assure your child that you are not only their parent but also a friend they could run to. 

5. Be a role model to your children. Show them how you dealt with stress when you were younger. Set a good example by empathizing with your children’s feelings by being present when they are struggling. This way, they will feel secure and will positively reciprocate this to themselves or to their peers. 

Which of the above steps will you start practicing in your parental responsibility to secure and protect your child’s mental health?