Supporting Your Child with their Mental Health
We are continuing on from last months blog (https://www.littlebeamfoundation.com/news/supporting-your-child-with-their-mental-health) to look at ways in which to support your child’s mental health with a couple more of our six key areas of the Foundation.
OUR 6 KEY FACTORS - THIS BLOG: SPORT AND EDUCATION
At the Little Beam Foundation, we focus on 6 key areas of support- Play, Music, Art, Sport, Education and Health. For today’s blog, we wanted to focus on two of those six - Sport and Education! Some of this might seem too simplistic to be true, but we want to ensure that we offer all types of resources, information and a variety of examples that you can try.
We all know that, even though we can create our own strategy tool box, some of those tools won’t work on a given day - even if they have in the past.
Having a variety of tools, resources and offerings helps to build our knowledge and understanding, creating lots of options that we can access.
There’s plenty of evidence that taking part in physical activity can have a profound and positive impact on mental wellbeing. Being physically active can improve mood, decrease the chance of depression and anxiety and lead to a better and more balanced lifestyle.
We all know that sports are great for your physical health. But sports also have many psychological benefits.
The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK published :The Role of Physical Activity and Sport in Mental Health May 2018 to be reviewed May 2021” which stated:
“Physical activity can increase self-esteem and reduce depression and anxiety in children. We also know that physical activity performed in an outdoor space can improve cognitive performance, self-esteem and reduce anxiety and symptoms related to attention deficit disorder.. There needs to be clear pathways safeguarding vulnerable adults and children suffering from mental health issues when participating in physical activity and safeguarding generally for all those participating in organised sport. Organisations that promote physical activity in patients with mental health problems should have designated safeguarding staff and referral pathways to more specialist services. This includes the management of acute mental health conditions”
The Faculty also recognised the prevalence of mental health conditions in minority groups, such as ethnic minority and LGBT groups, and how this correlates with lower levels of physical activity and morbidity. “Special provisions and methods need to be available to target vulnerable patients and minority groups with mental illness to improve outcomes by removing barriers to these groups”.
There are many studies which have shown that doing physical activity can improve mental health. For example, it can help with:
- better sleep – by making you feel more tired at the end of the day
- happier moods – physical activity releases feel-good hormones that make you feel better in yourself and give you more energy
- managing stress, anxiety or intrusive and racing thoughts – doing something physical releases cortisol which helps us manage stress. Being physically active also gives your brain something to focus on and can be a positive coping strategy for difficult times
- better self-esteem – being more active can make you feel better about yourself as you improve and meet your goals
- reducing the risk of depression – studies have shown that doing regular physical activity can reduce the likelihood of experiencing a period of depression
- connecting with people – doing group or team activities can help you meet new and like-minded people, and make new friends.
Mind, The Mental Health Charity, also make note that:
“Physical activity isn't always helpful for everyone's mental health. You may find that it is helpful at some times and not others, or just that it doesn't work for you. For some people, physical activity can start to have a negative impact on their mental health, for example, if you have an eating problem or tend to overtrain.”
Here are some ideas for activities you can try as recommended by Mind:
Mental health workers and researchers have found that our mental health can be supported by connecting with others, developing a sense of meaning or purpose, building coping skills and having a goal or hobby. One way to engage in all of these activities is through learning and education. Research shows that education can improve mental health by broadening intellectual, social and emotional horizons.
A fantastic blog by Jonathan Glazzard, Professor and Head of Department at Edge Hill University and Samuel Stones, Associate Researcher at Leeds Beckett University states that;
““Educational institutions play a critical role in identifying mental health needs and providing tailored interventions, but financial constraints have resulted in student wellbeing services and external health services being drastically reduced (DHSC & DfE, 2017) and unable to meet demand” (https://www.bera.ac.uk/blog/children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-the-role-of-schools)
However, it is worth remembering that education doesn’t have to be defined to school, college or university years. Education is the building blocks of knowledge that takes place in and out of the classroom and thus, we all have a responsibility to help support the building of that knowledge and support system.
- Consider using books as a vehicle to open discussions around mental health. Some excellent books (if I don’t mind saying so myself) for Primary Years can be found at www.littlebeam.co.uk
- Take time to build your own knowledge and understanding of Mental Health so as best to support your child or young adult. Free resources and training and provided by many Mental Health Charities.
- Understand that education (schooling) is not for everybody and that, in itself, can be a huge factor for many children and young adults when it comes to their mental health. Opening discussions around education, likes, dislikes, and seeking ways in which to support the growth and development through different education options will take time and patience.
- Look at fun ways in which to incorporate education and learning into everyday life in fun and interesting ways. Ensure that you include discussions around mental health, emotions and wellbeing as part of this education and learning.
- Link in with Educational mental health practitioners (EMHPs). These work across education and healthcare to provide mental health support for children and young people in schools and colleges.
- Consider signing up for free Mental Health courses to support Children and Young Adults such as Free Course England - Mental Health Course or Young Minds Courses
Join us again next month whereby we will be talking about our final two KEY FACTORS at the Foundation and examples of how you can implement these into your own home.
As a reminder, keep checking the website for our latest events, ways to get involved AND to apply for grants.
Have a great day!