Moving Forward – Protecting our children’s mental health

We had the privilege of meeting together on Tuesday 13th October 2020 for another one of our Moving Forward events. The evenings topic was mental health and the guest speaker was Rachael Newham. Rachael shared a bit of her personal experience and also gave us practical advice that would help us to protect our children.

My reflections were the following:

Sleep is important, I think Rachael effectively highlighted just how important sleep is! Both how consistency and a bedtime routine are essential for our and our children’s well being.

Eating and socialising were also highlighted as things that are so essential. Unfortunately with Covid restrictions we have had to restrict the socialising that our children participate in. I think that we need to make every effort to encourage our children to socialise where it is possible at the moment.

When Rachael mentioned how a sabbath was vital to the mental health of our children, I got very excited. I remember how there was always a dedicated day of rest when I was a child/young person. My parents used to say that ‘As a family; we have a day of rest’ it was just something we did. I used to love it because it didn’t matter how close I was to an exam, I knew that I would never be encouraged to study on a Sunday it was a family day. So I could study hard all week and then have a guilt free rest day. I will definitely be making it a family thing for my children.

Rachael then progressed on to discuss what many of us were thinking…..Why has there been an increase in poorer mental health in recent times/years?

She suggested a few things including how modern life isn’t designed for good mental health. There is also increased pressure from both school and social media. World issues and fake news are so accessible and bombarding our lives all the time.

The scariest of Rachael’s suggestions was the correlation between the increase in poor mental health since 2007 and how that was the year the first iPhone was released. This invention has obviously advanced the tech industry in a good way but it seems as though it isn’t great for the mental health of our children and young people.

She finished with a few things that might help us to help our children process their feelings and the world around them. These included; writing down their worries, highlighting things they actually have control over, limit watching the news to once a day as a family where you watch an accurate source.

Warning signs for bad mental health include; changes in sleep and eating habits, the lack of interest for things they usually enjoy.

– Rebecca