The Importance of Teaching Mental Health for Children
Despite the fact that mental health conditions are more prevalent than ever — and there is much more awareness about them — there are still misconceptions which can make dealing with them very hard indeed. How can teaching mental health awareness from childhood change this?
Mental Health Issues in Children
Although we may not immediately think of children when issues such as PTSD, OCD, or depression are mentioned, the truth is that these mental illnesses are not just the domain of adults — mental health disorders in children can develop as well.
By teaching children about these conditions early on, they will be better able to spot the signs in themselves or in their friends, and help can then be sought sooner, rather than later. If mental illness is left undiagnosed and untreated, it will only get worse and this can lead to problems later on in life when it comes to relationships and employment — and it might even cause some young people to tragically take their own lives.
After someone has formed their own opinions about something, it is hard to then try to teach them to do things in another way — or to understand things differently — even if they are actually wrong in their initial thoughts. This is true when it comes to understanding mental illness. If someone has certain prejudices and ideas about it, attempting to change the truth will be an uphill struggle.
Children don’t have these opinions. They haven’t experienced enough of life to become set in their ways. This means that it is much easier to explain mental illness (in age-appropriate terms, of course). The hope is that these young people will grow up with a much better and well-rounded understanding of mental health problems, and this generation will teach their own children and so on, thus eliminating any stigma altogether in a few generations.
Asking for Help
One of the biggest problem areas for those with mental health problems and illnesses is that they find it hard to ask for help. They’re just not sure how to articulate their thoughts and feelings (which is a hard thing to do with mental illness anyway) and to request the help they need.
If mental health awareness is taught from an early age — and the fact that asking for help is always going to be a good option — then as soon as they feel they are starting to suffer, they will know not only how to reach out, but who to reach out to. This could save many lives and ensure that mental health problems are treated sooner, especially after serious damage may already have been done.
By incorporating mindfulness lessons into the average school day, it is possible to teach children about mental health awareness and to help them be more cognizant of their inner state at the same time. It may seem like a small step, but it could lead to something big and exciting.