Simple tips for parents and kids to connect
TORONTO, Nov. 15, 2012 /CNW/ -The proverb that "it takes a village to raise a child" may not be far from the truth when helping kids struggling with their mental health. As a parent, teacher or friend of a young person dealing with anxiety, stress, depression, bullying, or other form of mental health challenges, one of the most important things you can do to support them is connect them with others, helping them to build a circle of trust.
"At Kids Help Phone, kids often turn to us because they need help, but they don't want to worry their parents," said Sharon Wood, president & CEO, Kids Help Phone, and a mother to two teenagers. "As a parent, we may feel that our kids should confide in us about everything. But in reminding them that support can come from a variety of sources including: family, friends, neighbours, and organizations like Kids Help Phone, we are helping our children become independent and resourceful."
According to the 2012 RBC Children's Mental Health poll, 63 per cent of parents would like to think that their child would approach them about mental health issues but according to a companion poll of youth who visited the Kids Help Phone website, children are more inclined to confide in their friends (50%), rather than a mother (30 per cent), a health professional (22 per cent) or a father (10 per cent).
"Many parents and children don't discuss mental health concerns," said Dr. Ian Manion, psychologist, executive director of the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health. "Kids who suffer in silence can obsess over simple issues that can quickly become unmanageable. Parents who have regular conversations with their children about feelings and behaviour are more likely to identify potential concerns early."
The RBC poll found that one significant barrier to early intervention, diagnosis and treatment of a child's mental health issue may be perceived stigma. An overwhelming majority of parents agree that children with a mental health condition are stigmatized among their peers (84 per cent) or among adults (76 per cent).
Mental health is not a one-time discussion; conversations between children and parents should evolve and grow. Nobody should have to struggle in silence. Here are some simple tips to keeping an open dialogue with your kids and talking about mental health.
Three simple tips for parents
Encourage openness: Encourage your child to come to you with issues, and remind them that
nothing they could say would make you love them less; explicitly tell
them that you're always ready to hear what is going on in their lives.
Connect them with resources: Accept that your child may not turn to you with every issue they face.
Let them know that there are other adults they can trust, like
teachers, guidance counsellors, doctors and places like Kids Help Phone
where they can go for help.
- Set a good example: It's okay to admit you're feeling tired, grumpy, or upset after work, it is important for kids to understand that everyone goes through tough times, even parents.
Three simple tips for kids
- Strong feelings are okay: Every one has intense feelings sometimes. Even if you don't feel comfortable going to your parents right away, there are people available to help. Teachers, counsellors, doctors and places like Kids Help Phone are always there.
- There are ways to manage your feelings: Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength and resourcefulness. Reach out to the person you think is best able to help, and tell them how you want to be supported
- .Keep talking until somebody listens: It is very frustrating to feel as if people (especially your parents) do not understand what you are saying. Do not let that frustration stop you from talking to someone else, until you feel heard and supported.
For the child who is not ready to talk, a wealth of kid-friendly, age appropriate information is available at kidshelpphone.ca, Kid's Help Phone's interactive website. By visiting the site with the young people in their lives, parents and teachers can start a conversation on the challenges youth are facing today, and together get to know the resources and tips that are clinically endorsed by Canada's leading online and phone counselling service for youth.
The RBC poll showed that while parents generally agree that the biggest issue facing children with mental illness is not stigma but access to information and services, most still believe that the stigma is significant enough to warrant a way to access information on the subject anonymously.
"Kids Help Phone is available to all young people in Canada, no matter the situation, question or concern, online, by phone and, in a limited pilot service, by live chat on computers and smartphones," added Wood. "Kids turn to us because they know we don't ask for their name, we don't trace calls or IP addresses. They can say whatever is on their mind, we won't judge and we'll always help them find a solution that works for them."
RBC Foundation's $1 million investment in Kids Help Phone is the largest gift ever by the Foundation in support of child and youth mental health in Canada. RBC Foundation's support represents an early, important contribution to the new funding necessary to build live chat counselling to a full national service, available free of charge to young people in distress anywhere in Canada.
About Kids Help Phone
Since 1989, Kids Help Phone has been Canada's leading online and phone counselling service for youth. It's free, it's anonymous and confidential, and it's available any time of the day or night, 365 days a year in English and in French. Professional counsellors support the mental health and well-being of young people, ages five to 20, by providing one-on-one counselling, information and resources. As a community-based national charity, Kids Help Phone receives no core government funding and relies on community and corporate support to fund its essential and vital service.
About the RBC Children's Mental Health Parents Poll
The RBC Children's Mental Health Parents Poll was completed online from July 19 to August 3, 2012 using Leger Marketing's online panel, LegerWeb, with a sample of 2,568 Canadian parents with at least one child under the age of 18. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of ±1.93 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
Kids Help Phone commissioned a companion poll to the 2012 RBC Children's Mental Health Parents Poll asking 115 youth visiting the Kids Help Phone website, who they have or would speak to about their mental health concerns.
About the RBC Children's Mental Health Project
The RBC Children's Mental Health Project is a multi-year philanthropic commitment to programs that reduce stigma, provide early intervention and increase public awareness about children's mental health issues. The RBC Children's Mental Health Project is our cornerstone 'health and wellness' donations program, and since 2008, we have donated over $12 million to more than 200 community-based and hospital programs across Canada. Sharon Wood and Dr. Ian Manion are advisors to the RBC Children's Mental Health Project. For more information, visit rbc.com/childrensmentalhealth.