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What Families Can Do to Promote Healthy Minds

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mental health-children-teens-school-home

Our mental health is constantly impacted by what happens around us, in both good and bad ways. The more proactive we are about addressing our mental health, the more resilient we can be at navigating difficult situations throughout our lives. Help your family maintain a healthy mind and build resiliency by:

Being aware

Knowing about current events in your child’s life and any big changes they are going through socially, academically, emotionally, or physically can help you be more engaged in supporting their mental health and addressing mental health challenges as they arise. 

Talking to your child

To make mental health a priority and a normal part of your family’s daily life, be sure to have regular family conversations about it. You can talk through your children’s feelings or concerns, things happening at school or with friends, or how current events are impacting them. You can also try to share your own feelings, challenges and what is happening in your life.

These conversations help you learn how your child is doing emotionally, build their ability to cope with life’s stresses, and provide them with additional help if and when they need it. Talking about mental health with your kids shows them that their feelings matter, that they are not alone, and that they are loved and supported. It also helps you build trust, allow your child to know you better, and shows them that you are a relatable person who sometimes struggles, too. 

When you have these mental health discussions, make sure they’re focused, distraction-free, and routinely scheduled. 

Prioritizing healthy lifestyles 

Living a healthy lifestyle helps maintain good mental health and improves overall well-being. Small changes can make a big difference. It is never too late to commit to having a healthy mind and body! Maintain your family’s mental health and well-being by:

  • Eating meals together. Try to practice a healthy diet consisting of a lot of fruits, vegetables, beans and lean protein. Limit foods high in trans-fat and added sugars.
  • Exercising regularly. A fun family challenge could be to see who can get the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity a week.
  • Limiting screen time. Decide as a family how much time a day is OK for everyone, including parents, to be on their devices outside of work or school.
  • Getting the recommended amount of sleep each night. Kids ages 6-12 need 9-12 hours of sleep, teenagers need 8-10 hours, and adults need 7-9 hours a night. As a family, agree to establish a consistent bedtime. Remove all devices from bedrooms.
  • Managing your stress. Start by identifying what in your life is causing you stress and try to figure out healthy ways to manage it.
  • Finding which relaxation techniques work for your family and practicing them together. There are many free online videos and apps to teach your family popular techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga. Listening to music, drawing, journaling, or going for a walk can also be helpful.

Speaking up for your child

It’s important to make sure your child’s environment outside of home also supports their good mental health.

You can speak up for your child by going to your PTA, your school leadership, and your school- or community-based organizations to make sure:

  • Your child’s school is welcoming, safe, and connected.
  • Your child’s healthcare team routinely screens for mental health and wellness, listens to your child and you, and communicates openly and effectively.
  • Clubs, sports teams, and activities outside of school are inclusive of everyone.
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