Mental Health: 5 Ways to Support your Black & Brown Child
Often stigmatized and overlooked, Mental Health amongst Black and Brown minorities is an issue that continues to affect our communities. It seems necessary, now more than ever, to review and discuss ways parents and caregivers can be proactive in helping their children maintain optimal mental wellness.
What is "Mental Health"
Mental Health encompasses our "emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing." As defined by the CDC, being mentally healthy means "reaching developmental and emotional milestones and learning healthy social skills and how to cope when there are problems," Undoubtedly, mental health is essential in childhood, adolescents, and adulthood. However, in recent years, it has been reported that children have been experiencing higher rates of anxiety and depression. To combat this, we've consolidated recommendations from various resources that aid parents and caregivers in supporting their children's mental wellness.
Identifying and addressing present symptoms of Mental Illness.
Racial and ethnic minority communities face unique struggles regarding Mental Health, so much so that July has been identified as Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, and behavior disorders are among the more common mental disorders diagnosed in childhood. Mental health disorders can present themselves in various ways and forms. As Children are still developing, it's essential to recognize and address the way your child is learning, behaving, and handling their emotions. If needed, you can then implement the necessary level of support and seek additional resources and preventative help.
Creating a Healthy Environment.
All forms of relationships thrive in a healthy environment. When discussing the environment, we're referring to "space" overall, not just the physical component. That's important to keep in mind. You want to create the space and opportunity for your child to communicate with you healthily. You can do this by implementing the following;
- Speak from a place of understanding and not a place of judgment. Be Open and Honest. Communicate to your child that what they are feeling or saying is important. Do not dismiss them.
- Reassure them they can approach you with any issues.
- Model healthy coping and communication skills by talking about feelings and emotions regularly.
- Provide positive feedback and encouragement.
- Involve your child(ren) in decisions regarding their wellbeing. Additionally, support your child's decisions.
- Practice Affirmations. Speak love into your child.
Routines aid mental health by reducing stress and eliminating uncertainty about day-to-day schedules. Creating and introducing a daily routine relieves your child by promoting healthy habits and minimizing frustrating feelings for both the parent and child. Better stress levels lead to improved mental health.
Practice Self Care.
Self-care helps children of all ages become more aware of their emotional and physical needs. Incorporating small or significant acts of self-care aid in decreasing stressors, improving relationships, and promoting overall wellness of mind and body. Encouraging kids to take on their self-care practices, no matter how small such as brushing their hair and teeth, is truly beneficial as it relates to their cognitive, emotional, and physical development. Incorporating self-care practices is crucial for us parents and caregivers as well. We cannot support the mental health and wellness of our child(ren) if we are not allowing opportunities for ourselves to decompress.
Representation helps increase self-esteem for Black and Brown communities. Exposure through media representation can aid in reducing stereotypes of marginalized groups. Representation creates opportunities for our children to seek community support and validation. The battles we face as minorities are unique to us - having someone or something that perpetuates a healthy, cultural correlation is a significant shift in how your child perceives themself and the confidence they exert.
There are many different ways to support the mental health of your child(ren). How do you approach this topic in your family?