How to Encourage Positive Mental Health in Children and Adults - Activfirst
In 2019 we are lucky that mental health is recognised and given more support than in previous years. 1 in 10 children or young people and 1 in 4 adults will suffer with poor mental health at some point in their life meaning its more common than some realise. These kind of statistics beg the question, how can we encourage positive mental health in children and adults?
Early Intervention is Vital
Half of all mental health problems begin by the age of 14 and 75% by the age of 24. As parents, carers, teachers, friends, youth workers etc we have the ability to educate ourselves to recognise signs of poor mental health.
If poor mental health signs are recognised early on, then a child is more likely to:
- Implement coping mechanisms
- Develop resilience
- Have the opportunity for a better future
If early intervention is implemented there is potential to:
- Reduce the amount of cost incurred when they are adults
- Cut down the demand on the NHS
- Provide education and life skills
- Help people reach their full potential
Recognise Changes in Behaviour
Mental health can be categorised as the ability to cope with everyday challenges and not become overwhelmed continuously by stress, fear or worry. The first step is to recognise signs of changes in behaviour. Have they become withdrawn, angry, hostile or emotional? These can all be signs that something may be affecting them and they need further support to address it.
Changes can be seen in children or adults if you stop and take notice. Think about a time in your life when you had to cope with something difficult or stressful, you will pick up on more signs than you realise.
- Snapping at close friends and family
- Changes in breathing pattern
- Avoiding socialising with people
- Change in food intake
- Less motivated to do everyday tasks
Recognising changes in yourself and others means you can implement good positive mental health techniques and intervene early to avoid larger negative effects.
Identifying if Someone Needs Support
If you think someone close to you needs support, ask yourself these questions from the following list.
- Have someone they can TRUST to talk to?
- Are they close and CONNECTED to any family members?
- Feel a sense of CONTROL within their life and circumstances?
- Feel CONFIDENT to ask for help?
- Have any HOBBIES or INTERESTS?
- Know how to stay CALM?
- Keep their selves FIT and WELL?
- Feel POSITIVE and HOPEFUL?
If you can answer all these questions about the person you are thinking about then you may want to question how you know so much without talking to them first.
How to Provide Support
Encouraging talking is the second step you need to take when trying to help someone with their mental health. As an outsider you may be quick to judge or assume you know why they feel the way they do. However, without sitting down, asking open questions and LISTENING, you may miss what the person is trying to say.
Research has shown that there are 5 ways to wellbeing which can be boosted and have been proven to help people avoid mental health problems, even with small improvements.
Connect with people around you. Be active and go for a walk or a run, dance and play a game. Take notice of all the interesting and beautiful things around you. Learn to become more confident and have fun. Give and do something kind for someone, smile and make others happy too. If you can create a balance or help someone to balance the 5 ways to wellbeing, then their mental health should reflect this positively. Here at Activfirst, we run a Lifestyle management course which focuses on this. The course delivery helps boost personal knowledge and skills so this can be implemented in everyday life.
Final Thoughts: Stigma
Finally, Stigma! A big grey area in which opinions, voices, facts and you name it come out of the wood work. All of which can make those suffering with poor mental health feel isolated, alone, ‘crazy’ and dramatic. Let’s face it, a broken arm can be clearly seen by the bruises, bandages and x-rays. A broken mind is harder to see, making it harder to believe, making the person feel less likely to open up and reach for support.
If we recognise, talk, and listen and ignore the stigma and raise awareness instead, then we are helping to fight the battle that is poor mental health and encourage positive mental health instead.
Whilst you’re here, why not have a read of our previous post: