Looking after your child’s mental health and wellbeing is just as important as looking after their physical health. There are lots of things we can do to support children.
Supporting School-Aged Children
Looking after your child’s mental health is just as important as looking after their physical health. There are things that we can do to support your child’s mental health and wellbeing. Being active, having a sense of belonging and having a purpose in life all contribute to good mental health. There are so many ways that you can encourage your child to act, belong and commit in their everyday lives. Here are some tips to get you started.
Act – Do something
Support your child to keep active in as many ways they can mentally, physically, socially, spiritually, culturally…
Walk or ride to school, kick the footy with mates, write in a journal, act with mindfulness.
Keeping active mentally
Encourage your child to keep active mentally. Find books that they enjoy reading or read a book together. Things like playing board games, doing puzzles, learning languages, doing arts and crafts, learning an instrument are great ways we can help them stay active mentally.
Keeping active physically
The mental health benefits of physical activity are well known for improving quality of life and mood. Keeping your child physically active can be taking the dog for a walk, playing at the park, dancing together in your living room, kicking a ball. Being active doesn’t have to be an expensive or a time-consuming activity.
Keeping active socially
Make time and find ways for your child to spend time with friends and other people. Encourage playdates and time to hang out with friends or extended family. Find like minded people and support them to connect with others.
Keeping active spiritually
While the term spirituality means different things to different people, engaging in some form of spiritual activity contributes to mental wellbeing. There are many ways to encourage your child to be spiritual through formal religious activities or in non-religious ways such as through meditation, or mindfulness. We lead such busy lives so it’s good for all of us to slow down and be present in the moment.
Keeping active culturally
Find ways to be active culturally. Visit the museum together, learn about your family background and traditions. Develop your own new family traditions. On the weekend get involved in a community event, go to a show, explore the arts. There’s lots of free cultural activities and events – check out the activity finder.
Belong – Do something with someone
Relationships and social connections provide us all with a sense of belonging, which is essential for mental health and wellbeing. Belonging to groups, whether formal or informal contributes to your child’s identity and who they are. It also satisfies a child’s psychological need for friendship.
Belonging to a group can help as things change and your child transitions through different stages of life. Encourage your child to hang out with like-minded people and to get amongst something of value to them.
Support your child to create friendships and opportunities to belong by joining a sporting club or team, regularly catching up with friends, joining a group or club at school, play in a band or getting involved in the arts.
Commit – Do something meaningful
Commit refers to doing things that provide meaning and purpose in your child’s life. These can range from successfully completing challenging tasks to volunteering and doing good deeds for others.
Doing something they are proud of, especially when it’s challenging, can build your child’s self-confidence and self-esteem. Setting personal challenges and goals gives your child something to aim for and helps them keep going when things are a bit tough.
Support and challenge your child to learn new things, commit to a cause, volunteer and help others in need. Achieving goals and doing something good for someone else has many mental health benefits but can also make your child feel good!
How can the Mentally Healthy Schools program help?
Schools are important settings for supporting mental health and wellbeing among young people. A child or young person’s ability to be mentally healthy can be greatly enhanced by a community that fosters belonging and connectedness and provides opportunities for school aged children to be active.
The Mentally Healthy Schools program provides a framework to embed Act Belong Commit within the classroom, whole school environment and broader school community to encourage people to take action to improve and protect their mental health and wellbeing. It recognises the vital role schools can play to support and encourage students to be active, develop a sense of belonging and add meaning and purpose to their lives.
How can my school get involved?
Any primary or secondary school in Western Australia can join the Act Belong Commit Mentally Healthy Schools program. Check out the list of West Australian schools already involved.
Contact us today to find out how your school can get involved.