During this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week (6-12 February), Somerset County Council is sharing some simple tips to encourage parents and carers to consider how they can help children to build meaningful connections as part of this year’s ‘Let’s Connect’ theme.
Human beings thrive in communities, and this connection is vital for our wellbeing and our survival. When we have healthy connections – to family, friends and others – this can support our mental health and our sense of wellbeing.
When children feel connected to their families, friends, and communities, they are more likely to flourish. In contrast, when children feel isolated or unsupported, their mental health can suffer.
Councillor Tessa Munt, Executive Lead for Children and Families at Somerset County Council said:
“Investing in children’s futures includes taking care of their mental health. The last few years have been incredibly difficult for children and young people, with the isolation that many experienced during covid, and the pressures on families caused by cost-of-living pressures.
“It’s fantastic that organisations and communities are working together to support our children and young people with their mental wellbeing.
“I’m thrilled that we are supporting Children’s Mental Health Week, but we must ensure that we keep up these efforts all year round.”
Cllr Adam Dance, Executive Lead Member for Public Health, Equalities and Diversity said:
“The last few years have been incredibly tough on people’s mental health, especially amongst children and young people so it is really important that we focus on the mental wellbeing of our young people in Somerset.
“Relationships and personal connections play a key role in supporting positive mental health and wellbeing, especially when going through difficult periods of our lives, but there are some simple steps people can take to strengthen connections and support one another.”
- Connect in everyday ways: Moments of connection (and re-connection) are important in relationships between children and their caregiver. A good opportunity to connect might be when you pick a child up from school or come in from work. Giving your full attention can help to feel better connected as you talk, smile and hear about each other’s days. Additionally, watching your child play and joining in can be really important to them. With older children, car journeys or taking some time to listen to some music together can be a good time to reconnect.
- Be there to listen: Regularly ask how they’re doing so they get used to talking about their feelings and know there’s always someone to listen if they want it. Find out how to create a space where they will open up.
- Encourage their interests: Being active or creative, learning new things and being a part of a team help connect us with others and are important ways we can all help our mental health. Support and encourage your child to explore their interests, whatever they are.
- Take what they say seriously: Listening to and valuing what they say, without judging their feelings, in turn makes them feel valued. Consider how to help them process and work through their emotions in a more constructive way.
- Support them through difficult times: Pay attention to their emotions and remember, behaviour is a communication of a need. Try to help them work through difficulties. It’s not always easy when faced with challenging behaviour but try to help them understand what they’re feeling and why.
There are many self-help options or organisations that can support your child or young person with their mental health:
- Mental Health Toolkit – This area of the Somerset Children and Young People’s Health & Wellbeing website provides information and support about mental health and emotional health & wellbeing.
- LifeHacks – For looking after your mental health. A resource written for young people by young people with ideas and tips to help you and your friends take positive action for healthy wellbeing.
- Mindline – offer a confidential listening service which provides a safe place to talk if you, or someone you know, is in distress. They can also give basic information about mental health and local support services. The service is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can be contacted on 01823 276 892.
- Young Somerset’s Wellbeing Service – Free wellbeing support for young people experiencing low level mental health needs.
- Every Mind Matters – A website containing expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing, so discover what works for you.
- Young Minds – You are not alone, however you’re feeling right now, things can get better. Whether you want to understand more about how you’re feeling and find ways to feel better, or you want to support someone who’s struggling, we can help.
For more ideas, information and support on Children’s Mental Health Week ‘Let’s Connect’ go to the Somerset Children & Young People website.