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Children’s Mental Health Week 2019: Being healthy inside and out

Children’s Mental Health Week 2019: Being healthy inside and out
08 February 2019

For this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week (4-10 February) the theme is promoting the importance of being healthy both inside and out.

The awareness week, first launched back in 2015 by Place2Be, shines a spotlight on children and young people’s mental health.

Place2Be is a children's mental health charity providing school-based support and in-depth training programmes to improve the emotional wellbeing of pupils, families, teachers and school staff.

This year, Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust are pledging their support to the week by sharing advice from the charity to raise awareness of how parents and carers can help young people look after their mental health.

Emma Train-Sullivan, Social Mediation and Self Help (SMASH) Programme Manager said: “It is so important that we understand fully the connection between our physical and mental health. We feel emotions in our bodies - when we are excited or nervous we experience a fluttering in our tummy, and when we are sad our hearts feel heavy. It is vital that from a very young age we learn to understand how to keep our minds healthy and emotionally fit too.

“Staying physically well seems to be on everyone’s agenda from the moment we are born, if our bodies and minds are so intensely connected then keeping mentally fit too should also be on the top of our list.

“We teach our young people to eat healthy, get exercise and stay well, but what does well really mean? Remember, healthy mind, healthy body, healthy body, healthy mind.”

The SMASH programme forms part of the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service and aims to improve the emotional resilience and mental health of young people at East Riding secondary schools.

Recently nominated for a Health Service Journal (HSJ) Award, the SMASH programme helps young people learn about social, emotional and behavioural self-management skills.

Emma advises parents: “It’s great to be focused on your children’s physical health suggesting sugar swaps and getting your kids active outside, but it is equally important to talk. Our minds need care and exercise too, a simple “how you feeling?”,  “what’s gone well and not so well?” can go a long way.

“Asking these kind of questions are a great work out for your kids’ thoughts and feelings - it’s good to talk.”

Here are a few ways you can encourage children to look after their body and mind, as recommended by Place2Be:

  • Chat with your child about what you do to look after your body and mind, from walking the dog to turning your phone off before bed. Sharing the steps you’ve taken to stay healthy can set a good example for them – but don’t be afraid to admit it if you’ve struggled! It’s important for children to keep trying, even when things are difficult.
  • Praise your child and other family members for what they do to look after their body and mind – even if it’s small. If your child sees healthy living in a positive light, they’re more likely to carry on doing these things throughout life.
  • Remind them that there’s no such thing as a perfect body or mind – and no one is perfectly healthy! Your child might be tempted to compare themselves to other children, especially on social media, but it’s important to remember that everyone’s bodies and minds are different – and that’s something to celebrate.
  • Do something regularly with your child to be Healthy: Inside and Out. Family life can be very busy and stressful at times. Cooking a meal, sitting down for a family dinner, or going for a walk together can be a great way to stay connected and have fun.

For more information about Children’s Mental Health Week visit www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk

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