How to talk mental health with your child
A recent study by the Children’s Society estimates that nearly 110,000 children aged 14 may have self-harmed across the UK during the same 12-month period. The study suggests that some factors have an effect on the likelihood of self-harm. Girls are more likely than boys to self-harm, children who are attracted to children of the same gender or both genders are much more likely to self-harm and children from lower-income households have a higher than average risk of self-harming. However, all children and young people are at risk of self-harming and this is worrying.
It is important to talk to children and young people themselves to understand how they are feeling. Acceptance and support from people close to them is important to children growing up happy and being comfortable in their own identities.
Have a look at how our Mental Health Educational Workshops use puppets to teach children and young people about anxiety, depression, self-harm and how to get help.
These figures can seem overwhelming as a parent or carer, so we’ve included some advice below from the Children’s Society.
7 Top Tips to Tackle the Subject of Mental Health
- Don’t bombard your child with lots of questions.
- Keep an eye on your child but avoid ‘policing’ them because this can increase their risk of self-harming.
- Remember the self-harm is a coping mechanism. It is a symptom of an underlying problem.
- Keep open communication between you and your child. Remember they may feel ashamed of their self-harm and find it very difficult to talk about.
- It is important to keep a sense of normality as this will help your child feel secure and emotionally stable.
- Seek professional help. Your child may need a risk assessment from a qualified mental health professional. Talk to your GP and explore whether your child can be referred to your local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
- Discovering and responding to self-harm can be a traumatic experience – it’s crucial that you seek support for yourself. It’s natural to feel guilt, shame, anger, sadness, frustration and despair – but it’s not your fault.
If you want more advice and support you can contact the YoungMinds Parents Helpline on 0808 802 5544.
You can find the statistics provided and more research in the Children’s Society’s ‘The Good Childhood Report’.