May is National Mental Health Awareness Month

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Today, May 3rd, is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. In fact, May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Families and communities need to insure that the emotional health needs of children are being met, and need to insure that their own emotional health needs are being cared for.

Often when we speak of mental health, people imagine extreme situations of mental illness or some type of detachment from reality. Although these types of situations occur, emotional issues are usually much less extreme, and positive mental health is something we should be practicing every day. Emotional issues can occur due to a sudden life change, like a death or some other type of loss, or they can be from some type of chemical imbalance. They can be short term, or in other situations they may linger. The bottom line is that mental health, just like physical health, is a huge spectrum on which many people may fall.

Take every opportunity to maintain your emotional health, just as you would (should) your physical health. Get plenty of sleep, enjoy food, but be sure to primarily eat meals that are well-balanced…this advice is especially true for children, as it will help them in maintaining a healthy weight, as well as assisting in healthy brain development.

Although it’s impossible to be positive all the time, maintaining a general positive outlook aids in stress management, and also is a wonderful trait to model for children. It is also beneficial for interpersonal relationships.

Keep children’s self-esteem at its peak. Children need to be loved and praised, and let them know often what their strengths are. Even when a child is in need of discipline, it can be done in such a way that it is teaching the child, not just punishing. That also aids the child in learning how to deal with adverse situations in a more appropriate manner.

Sometimes there are mental health issues that are more prolonged or serious. Professional guidance should be sought in those situations. There are wonderful therapies out there even for very young children. Mental health issues do not have the stigma they once held, and there are many resources available to assist both children and adults. It takes a great deal of strength to ask for help, and in the long run it will be beneficial to everyone in a family or community. For more information, please go to

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