Ways to improve the emotional health of young people you care about
Do you remember growing up? For the majority, the experience of growing up can be incredibly stressful, demanding and confusing. Did the pressure ever get too much for you?
A young person’s behaviour can sometimes be due to mood swings caused by hormones, growth spurts and so on; but with developments in technology and increasing demands on young people to be better at school, to do more hobbies and even to look a certain way, it has never been more important to ensure that those growing up have good emotional health to help them through some potentially turbulent years.
Dr David Kingsley, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Medical Director at Priory Hospital Cheadle Royal explains how parents and carers can help children and young people to keep themselves emotionally healthy.
21st century life
It feels as though young people are expected to ‘grow up’ quicker than ever before and to manage a whole range of new challenges, such as the pressures of school, the complexities of social media and the stresses of modern family life, where time is short and finances can be tight.
Parents and carers – how can they help?
As parents and carers, we spend a huge amount of time looking after the physical health and wellbeing of the children we care for. But what about their emotional health and wellbeing? Often, what boosts physical health boosts emotional wellbeing, but there are some extra steps we need to take.
As parents and carers, we need to make sure that children feel unconditionally cared for, that we take time for our children and are able to listen to them and encourage them to be aware of their emotions and to express them in a healthy way. We need to ensure that our children know that we will support them as and when difficulties arise.
What are the key ways we can give young people an emotionally healthy start to life?
- Teach them how to understand emotions and model expressing them in a healthy way
- Have positive, trusting relationships with them; this will help them to feel loved and supported
- Help them to develop good, supportive friendships
- Encourage them to take up hobbies that help them to relax and cope with the stresses of school and modern life, rather than one more arena in which they have to strive to succeed
- Practise internet safety and teach them to be cautious about how they use social media, to avoid exploitation or cyberbullying
Healthy mind: happy life
Good emotional health during childhood and adolescence helps a young person to build self-confidence and achieve their goals; it sets them up to make healthy decisions and form healthy relationships as adults in order to live happy lives.
Young people who struggle emotionally are much more prone to failing in school, to being bullied and to self-harm and depression. In some severe cases, those who struggle emotionally may turn to alcohol and substance misuse.
This week is the Department of Health's fourth ‘Week of Action’ where healthcare providers will be looking at ways to support families to give children and young people the best start to life.