November Is Child Mental Health Awareness Month
Written By Savvy Auntie Staff Writers
by Jaime Herndon
Mental health is a much-talked about subject, but the focus is usually on teenagers or adults. Often overlooked, children’s mental health is just as important. November is National Child Mental Health Awareness Month, which can be a good time to broach the subject with parents or simply get a conversation started about kids and mental health.
As aunts, we don’t like to think about our nieces and nephews hurting or facing serious problems – but at times, it’s unavoidable. Sometimes emotional difficulties are reactions to something and are transient, but other times, there may be something more serious going on. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the child; it simply means they need extra help and support, and if necessary, treatment.
So how do you know if a child is struggling emotionally? Below are some signs to look out for:
- behavior problems in school or social settings
- aggressive behavior
- changes in sleeping or eating habits
- persistent complaints of feeling physically ill
- poor school performance
- excessive fear, sadness, or anxiety
If you do suspect something’s going on with your niece or nephew, how can you tell if they may need professional help? If the above feelings and behaviors interfere with functioning, if they last for more than six months, or if they are present in more than one setting, like home or social settings, they might need to see someone.
It can be hard to ask for help if you’re suffering, especially if you’re a child who doesn’t quite have the words to express yourself, or if you think the feelings are bad. If you notice your niece or nephew having difficulty, you might want to ask them if they want to talk about anything, let them know you’re always there for them, or normalize the fact that everyone needs help at times when things get rough. Bring up the subject with their parents – ask them if they’ve noticed anything different, or ask if they’ve seen their pediatrician lately. The pediatrician and the child’s teachers can be helpful in observing symptoms and providing resources.
Below are some helpful resources that are filled with information:
The Child Study Center at NYU
National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health
Kids Mental Health Informational Portal
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Children’s Mental Health
Published: November 5, 3014