Supporting Your Child with their Mental Health

Kerry Hearsey
December 29, 2023
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Supporting Your Child with their Mental Health

Supporting Your Child with their Mental Health

We are continuing on from last month's blog (  to look at ways in which to support your child’s mental health with another of our six key areas of the Foundation - health!


At the Little Beam Foundation, we focus on 6 key areas of support- Play, Music, Art, Sport, Education and Health. So let’s get to today’s blog - grab yourself a cuppa, relax and unwind, and enjoy the read!

Nurturing Minds Through Health Professionals and Holistically: Exploring Health and Holistic Options for Mental Health in Children and Young Adults

In an era where mental health concerns are on the rise, a holistic approach to well-being has gained recognition as a powerful tool for promoting mental health in children and young adults. This blog post delves into the diverse range of health and holistic options available to support mental well-being in this population. Drawing upon research and expert opinions, we explore the transformative potential of nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, and complementary therapies in fostering resilience, emotional balance, and overall mental well-being.

The Role of Nutrition

Proper nutrition plays a significant role in supporting mental health in children and young adults. A balanced diet rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals can positively impact brain function and mood regulation. Omega-3 fatty acids, for instance, found in foods like fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds, have been linked to improved cognitive function and reduced risk of depression.

1. According to nutritional psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, "Food is medicine; you eat every day, so it is something you can do right now to positively impact your mental health." This statement emphasises the crucial link between nutrition and mental well-being.

2. In a systematic review published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience, researchers found that nutrient-based interventions, such as supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids, showed promise in reducing symptoms of depression in children and adolescents.

The Power of Exercise 

Regular physical exercise not only enhances physical fitness but also has a profound impact on mental health. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, the brain's "feel-good" chemicals, which can alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. Moreover, engaging in physical activity fosters improved self-esteem, promotes better sleep patterns, and provides a healthy outlet for emotional expression.

1. Psychiatrist John Ratey highlights, "Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning." This statement underscores the profound benefits of exercise on mental well-being.

2. A systematic review published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology concluded that physical activity interventions significantly reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety in children and adolescents.

The Power of Mindfulness 

Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, breathing exercises, and mindfulness-based therapies, have gained increasing recognition as effective tools for promoting mental health in children and young adults. Mindfulness cultivates present-moment awareness and non-judgmental acceptance, reducing stress, enhancing emotional regulation, and improving overall well-being.

1. Mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn explains, "Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment." This quote underscores the transformative potential of mindfulness in cultivating mental well-being.

2. A meta-analysis published in the journal Clinical Psychology Review found that mindfulness-based interventions significantly reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression in children and adolescents.

Complementary Therapies

Complementary therapies, including art therapy, music therapy, and animal-assisted therapy, offer unique avenues for promoting mental health in children and young adults. These therapies provide creative and interactive outlets for emotional expression, fostering self-discovery, stress reduction, and improved coping skills.

  1. Art therapist Cathy Malchiodi highlights, "Art therapy engages the mind, body, and spirit in ways that are distinct from verbal therapeutic approaches." This statement underscores the power of art therapy in supporting mental well-being.
  2. A systematic review published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology demonstrated the positive impact of animal-assisted therapy on reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and behavioural problems in children and adolescents.

The role of the Health Professionals

Health professionals play a crucial role in supporting the mental health of children and young adults. Seeking professional help is an important step towards holistic well-being. Here are some of the health professionals that can be accessed:

1. Psychiatrists: Psychiatrists are medical doctors specialising in mental health. They can diagnose and treat mental illnesses using a combination of therapy, medication, and other interventions. Psychiatrists are particularly helpful for individuals with severe mental health conditions that may require medication management.

2. Psychologists: Psychologists are trained professionals who provide therapy and counselling services. They utilise evidence-based approaches to help individuals address emotional, behavioural, and psychological challenges. Psychologists often work with children and young adults, offering various therapeutic modalities tailored to their specific needs.

3. Counsellors: Counsellors, including licensed professional counsellors (LPCs) and school counsellors, focus on providing guidance and support to individuals experiencing emotional or psychological difficulties. They employ various therapeutic techniques to help clients navigate their challenges, develop coping strategies, and foster personal growth.

4. Social Workers: Licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) specialise in assisting individuals with mental health concerns, often in conjunction with other social and environmental factors. They provide counselling, advocacy, and access to community resources to support the overall well-being of children and young adults.

5. Occupational Therapists: Occupational therapists work with individuals to improve their daily functioning and quality of life. In the context of mental health, occupational therapists may assist children and young adults in developing coping skills, managing emotions, and engaging in meaningful activities to promote mental well-being.

6. Paediatricians: Paediatricians are medical doctors who specialise in the health and development of children and adolescents. They can play a vital role in identifying and addressing mental health concerns in young individuals, providing initial assessments, referrals, and guidance on managing mental health issues.

7. School Psychologists: School psychologists work within educational settings to support the mental health and academic success of students. They conduct assessments, provide counselling services, and collaborate with teachers, parents, and other professionals to create a supportive environment for children and young adults.

8. Art Therapists: Art therapists are trained professionals who utilise artistic expression as a therapeutic medium. Through various art forms, such as drawing, painting, and sculpting, art therapists help individuals explore and process their emotions, improve self-esteem, and develop coping skills.

9. Music Therapists: Music therapists use music and sound-based interventions to promote emotional well-being and self-expression. They work with children and young adults to address psychological, cognitive, and social challenges, harnessing the power of music to facilitate healing and personal growth.

It is important to note that accessing the right professional depends on the specific needs and circumstances of the individual. Collaborating with a multidisciplinary team that may include different professionals can provide comprehensive support and tailored interventions for children and young adults on their journey towards optimal mental health.

Ultimately, promoting mental health in children and young adults requires a comprehensive professional and holistic approach. By embracing health and holistic options such as nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, complementary therapies, we can support their emotional well-being and foster resilience. It is important to recognise that each individual is unique, and a tailored approach may be necessary. Integrating these diverse strategies can create a nurturing environment that cultivates mental wellness, enabling children and young adults to thrive and reach their full potential.

Kerry Hearsey
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