Back to school can be a stressful time for children and parents. Whether you are sending your child to kindergarten for the first time, off to university, or anywhere in between, it is important to be mindful of the impact of these transitions on your mental health and theirs. Recognizing the impact on your mental health can help you plan, stay productive at home and at work, and be proactive to address any concerns that may arise.
How can I be there to support my child's mental health?
1. Consider life outside academics - help your child make a plan for physical activity, healthy eating, relaxation, and social engagement. Whether it's hockey practice, karate, art class, or involvement in a committee or club, ensure they have goals outside of academics that focus on their physical and mental well-being.
2. Know what resources are available - help your child identify places they can seek out support if needed. This may look like a guidance counsellor, a don, a supportive teacher/mentor, or a student-support staff. Outside of school it may look like a parent, sibling, doctor, or healthcare practitioner.
3. Stay connected - make time to connect with your children. Whether they live at home or on their own, carve out time to show your support and understanding.
4. Get Educated - know the signs and symptoms of mental illness - signs of a mental health condition may include:
- Difficulty sleeping or change in sleeping patterns
- Feelings of hopelessness, sadness and isolation, or a negative state of mind
- Changes in appetite and eating patterns
- Changes in mood and behaviour
While not necessarily indicative of a mental illness, any of these signs should be taken seriously. Ensure you are educated on what to look for. Consider our Mental Health 101 Educational Session for more information.
5. Engage in Self-care and lead by example - show your children that you value work and wellness. Your children look up to you, and need you to stay healthy so you can be there to support them too. Read more about work-life balance and strategies for your mental health in our previous blog posts.
Consider these five steps to support your children's mental health. The more you are educated, the better you will be to take care of your own mental health and support your family. Still have questions? Contact us for more information.
Wondering how to better support your kids who live away for college/university? Check out this great article from The Toronto Star with specific strategies and tips.
Photo credit: www.collegefinancinggroup.com