May 9th was Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. It was a fun day at work! I love when we have a chance to talk to more people and do fun activities with the kids.
To celebrate Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day we had a nice big stand outside the entrance to the Pediatric Clinic. It was colorful and inviting. We gave away great books that create social-emotional awareness, like: “Too Loud, Lilly”, “I Love you because you’re you”, “Lullaby and Goodnight”, “All by myself” and baby books like “Smile” and “Baby Feels”.
We had pamphlets on social-emotional development, the importance of talking, reading and playing with children, and how to manage negative behaviors. Of course the colorful maracas and stress balls were also very inviting. The truth is, both parents and children were drawn to come play with us and we had a blast, while sharing such valuable information as well!
We asked children how they were feeling that day and asked parents how they took care of themselves! We colored and drew pictures about what makes us feel happy and loved and made turtles out of paper plates, while explaining how “Tucker the Turtle”, hides in his shell when he is mad to calm down. It was fun!
We engaged children and adults on a talk about feelings. Such a needed conversation that is not often discussed. Talking about our feelings creates awareness of our own moods and thoughts, which is half-way to finding a solution that will make us feel better. People hear Mental Health and are many times scared about the expression. Mainly, because instead of thinking about health, they are thinking about unhealthy. Mental Health, actually describes the level of psychological well-being and the absence of psychological disorders or issues.The more people talk about their feelings, the more they are aware of them and can then take preventive action that will allow them to maintain psychological well-being. Teaching our children from a young age to identify what they are feeling and naming those feelings, will help them express verbally what is making them feel that way instead of acting out those feelings. So, please, talk to your children about their feelings and ask yourself about yours! Don’t forget about your well-being either! One mother told us, she has not done anything to take care of herself since her first son was born (9 years ago)! We hear that a lot. We get caught up in the daily routines of taking care of our children, going to work, keeping up with the house… and forget about ourselves. In order to best take care of your children, you also need to take care of yourselves. Make time to do something that makes you feel good and relaxed. A long bath, a prayer, reading a book… anything that you can fit into your schedule and budget. Sometimes just closing your eyes and imagining your favorite place in the world is just as effective as going there.
So remember, talking about feeling is not a mushy, touchy-feely thing… it’s important! Being connected with our emotions makes it easier to communicate with others, feel better about ourselves and our lives! It’s an important skill to have and to teach… so let’s get to work!