Podcast Whole Child Podcast

What Does It Take for Children to Be Mentally Healthy?

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A child's mental health is influenced by her biology, social and physical environment, and behavior, as well as the availability of services. Good emotional and behavioral health enhances a child's sense of well-being, supports satisfying social relationships at home and with peers, and facilitates achievement of full academic potential. Research shows that one of five children and adolescents aged 9 to 17 experience symptoms of mental health problems that cause some level of impairment in a given year. However, fewer than 20 percent who need mental health service receive them.

But, being mentally healthy is not just about emotional and behavioral difficulties. It's also about being mentally strong and resilient and having the skills and supports to deal with stressful issues when they arise. In a nationally representative survey of 12- to 17-year-old youths and their trauma experiences, 39 percent reported witnessing violence, 17 percent reported physical assault, and 8 percent reported a lifetime prevalence of sexual assault.

Just as one can be physically healthy or unhealthy, one can also be mentally healthy or unhealthy. In this episode of the Whole Child Podcast, we discuss the importance of each child, in each school and in each community, being socially, emotionally, and mentally healthy. You'll hear from

  • Erica Ahmed, director of public education for Mental Health America, formerly the National Mental Health Association.
  • Jo Mason, acting national business manager and national professional product development manager for whole child partner Principals Australia Institute and MindMatters, Australia.
  • Philip C. Rodkin, associate professor of child development in the Departments of Educational Psychology and Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

How does your school and community promote good mental health, build resiliency, and facilitate wellness for your children?

Comments (1)

Alejandra Del Fabro

May 26, 2012

How does my school and community promote good mental health, build resiliency, and facilitate wellness for our children?

We participated in BAW, Dana Foundation.
There were many projects involving “The Whole Child” I would like to share this one:

4th, 5th and 6th Grades, learning by doing and acting “Getting to know us”

We shared a story “Feeling afraid” by Joy Berry, published by Scholastic. It was a stepping stone to start talking about emotions. All the way through the story, we learned that emotions take place not only in our minds but also in our bodies so it is very important to know them, identify them, and try to find a way out if they are not that good.
We explored the world of basic emotions and learned that everybody can feel happy, sad, scared, surprised, disgusted, sad or angry because these emotions are in our brains from the very moment we are born and we share them with people from different countries, cultures and times. “Basic emotions are global”, as students said.
Then, we talked about what to do when you are angry? (we made up a song by using antonyms. Do you remember “If you are happy and you know it”? Our own version was:

If you are angry and you know it
Clap your hand,
If you are angry and you know it
Clap your hand,
If you are angry and you know it
And you really want to show it
If you are angry and you know it
clap your hands
If you are angry and you know it
Tell a friend
If you are angry and you know it
Tell a friend
If you are angry and you know it
And you really want to show it
If you are angry and you know it
Tell a friend
If you are angry and you know it
Leave the place
If you are angry and you know it
Leave the place
If you are angry and you know it
And you really want to show it
If you are angry and you know it
Leave the place

As we understood how important it is to identify other people´s emotions by looking at their faces, we role played with the “Emotions Cards” published by Asociación Educar. Finally, we came up to the conclusion that if “I can see an unhappy expression in my friend´s face, I can do something to stop making him feel upset or helping him feel better.
What´s more, the different basic emotions may combine together to produce more! Hope and joy, combined become optimism, joy and acceptance make us feel affection and disappointment is a mixture of surprise and sadness. Then, we also learned that these emotions, which are a mix of the basic ones,  unless taught are unknown for people.
During the time it took as to cover, understand, retell and finally learn the topic, we shared with parents what we were doing in class and provided them with very useful information about the brain.

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