This is a different world that we live in. Kids are exposed to life at a far more rapid pace than ever before, which can lead to serious issues such as anxiety, depression, and behavioral disorders. According to MentalHealth.org, an alarming 70% of children and young people who experience mental health problems have not had sufficient medical intervention at an appropriate age. The CDC defines mental disorders among children as situations that seriously change "the way children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions, causing distress and problems getting through the day."
While some mental health issues are genetic, some may also be caused by exposure to social media and technology, which can incite anxiety and other negative mental effects. In fact, some studies show that kids and teenagers report feelings of depression, poor body image, and loneliness after prolonged exposure to social media. Of course, there's also the fear that children are losing their social skills because they're able to text, share, and scroll without ever coming into contact with an actual human. This can make skill-building difficult, and it can change the way kids view standard social cues.
Signs That Your Child Might Be Suffering from a Mental Deficiency
Your child is looking toward you for guidance, and sometimes, they may not know anything is wrong. Keep your eye out for behavioral changes in your child, which might include some of the following characteristics:
- Persistent sadness (that lasts for two weeks or more)
- Avoidance of social interactions
- Talking about hurting themselves (or actually doing so)
- Outbursts or extreme irritability
- Drastic mood swings
- Changes in eating habit or bodyweight
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Missing or avoiding school
When you notice changes such as these in your child, reach out to your child's doctor and teachers. They might suggest you speak with a mental health professional, but before you do, gain any and all insight you can into your child's behavioral changes and the reasons these changes might have occurred.
How to Help Your Child Improve His or Her Mental Health
It's important to have open and honest conversations with your child so you can always check in if you feel like something might "off". Of course, prevention is always better than a diagnosis later on. Here are a few ways you can encourage positive mental health in your kids:
- Exposure to the outdoors. A lack of vitamin D, which we get from the sun, can cause mental health issues such as depression. Getting outside and playing in the sun can help the body rebuild this vital nutrient. Not only that, but when kids are playing outside, they're usually interacting with other kids, as well, which can bring a lot of positive life lessons with it.
- Sports. Sports are a great way to show your kids how to challenge themselves and reap the rewards of solid efforts. Don't be afraid to try a few different sports until you find one that clicks.
- Art & creative activities. Exercise your child's mind with art and craft activities that invite the creative brain to come to life.
Social interaction is important to the health and well-being of kids of all ages. If you run a school, community organization, or other facility in which children are a focus on your mission and vision, May Recreation can help you build a playground that facilitates social learning and lessens the impact screens and staying indoors can have on the next generation of leaders. Reach out to us to learn more about our projects and possibilities today!