Mental Wellness

children_mental_healthChildren’s Mental Health Awareness Week runs from May 6th through May 12th. A national poster contest for the theme “Youth Overcoming Trauma” resulted in the poster seen in the accompanying image.

The mental health of children is often overlooked for a variety of reasons. Adults tend to rely on children to out grow “a phase”, or consider certain situations to simply be “part of growing up”….and this is all true, but not all the time.

Promoting resilience in the face of adversity is an important factor in maintaining good mental health. Developing strengths used to overcome challenges so children can accomplish other goals is part of the old school tradition that still holds water.

Other factors in maintaining and developing a healthy mind and spirit is assuring that a child has a sense of belonging. Being connected, welcomed, and involved is intrinsic to the child developing a self-image and trusting others.

Helping others is often a way for children to help themselves. They gain a sense of empowerment when they know they can make a difference. Positive social interaction helps build self-esteem, builds a sense of connectedness, and confirms the concept of personal responsibility. It reaffirms their sense of belonging to a community. Being connected to friends and family is fundamental to enhancing mental wellness.

The promotion of positive behavior, instilled in parents from the dawn of time, continues to be a building block for positive mental health. Teaching respect, responsibility, and encouraging empathy help prevent negative behavior and promote a sense of well being. Clear rules of conduct and fair discipline provide a structured environment that helps children learn, develop and instills the skills needed for adulthood.

Finally, there is a connection between a healthy body and a healthy mind, and there is some truth to you are what you eat. Physical health can often relate to mental health. Promoting healthy eating choices, encouraging regular exercise, and assuring children get enough sleep help keep the body healthy enough to deal with any additional stress they might encounter.

As adults get older, they may find it incredulous that children suffer from stress, suffer from depression, after all — they usually have it easy compared to the increasing responsibilities and stress adults experience. But kids are people too…

In recognition of Children’s Mental Health Month, The Family Support Services of Bergen County is sponsoring a one-person show performed by Dr. Michael Fowlin Actor, Psychologist, Poet. Residents are invited to experience his gripping, fast-paced 75-minute performance of nine characters, both male and female, who “share their stories”…… the mental health challenges facing our children and youth today.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 6 – 9 p.m.
River Dell Middle School
230 Woodland Ave. River Edge, New Jersey 07661
Community Resource Tables available 6-7 p. m.
No Cost to Attend!
Register by May 17th
Phone: 973-569-7562 Co-Sponsor The Record
Or Family Support Organization of Bergen County, 201-796-6209

Or Register Online

Some symptoms parents and caregivers may want to be alert to are:

  • Decline in school performance
  • Poor grades despite strong efforts
  • Constant worry or anxiety
  • Repeated refusal to go to school or to take part in normal activities
  • Hyperactivity or fidgeting
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Persistent disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Depression, sadness or irritability

If any of the symptoms listed above appear ongoing, it may be advisable to contact your school and schedule a meeting. All FLOW schools have resources in place to assist and refer students who may be having issues affecting their mental well being.

West Bergen is also a local resource dedicated to the well fair of children’s mental and emotional well being.

Staying with the Bob Marley theme reflected in the winning poster for Youth Overcoming Trauma, we offer the “Jah Live” Bob Marley video below.( Click here for an interesting biblical analysis of the word “Jah”.)

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