Newark, N.J.-- It is easy for parents to identify a child’s physical needs–nutritious and balanced meals; adequate shelter and clothing; sufficient rest and physical activity; and a healthy living environment. However, a child’s mental and emotional needs may not be as obvious. Good mental health allows children to think clearly, develop socially, learn new skills, build self-esteem and develop a positive mental outlook.
May 8 is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, a nationwide campaign to increase the public’s awareness and understanding of mental illnesses.
“Awareness of children and adolescents' mental illnesses can promote early identification and treatment,” says Dianne Thomas, M.D., Psychiatrist, Behavioral Health Network at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. “Early diagnosis and treatment is strongly correlated with greater academic success, improved stability in relationships and better health overall.”
Promoting Pediatric Mental Health
The Behavioral Health Network at Newark Beth Israel offers these basics for a child’s good mental health:
· Give children unconditional love. Children need to know that your love does not depend on their accomplishments.
· Nurture children’s confidence and self-esteem. Praise and encourage them. Set realistic goals. Be honest about your mistakes. Avoid sarcasm.
· Encourage children to play. Play time is as important to a child’s development as food. Play helps children be creative, develop problem-solving skills and self-control, and learn how to get along with others.
· Enroll children in an after school activity. This is a great way for kids to stay productive, learn something new, gain self-esteem and have something to look forward to during the week.
· Provide a safe and secure environment. Fear can be very real for a child. Find out what is frightening him/her. Be loving, patient and reassuring, not critical.
· Give appropriate guidance and discipline when necessary. Be firm, but kind and realistic with your expectations. The goal is not to control the child, but to help him or her learn self-control.
· Communicate. Make time each day to listen to your children and talk with them about what is happening in their lives. Share emotions and feelings.
· Get help. If you are concerned about your child’s emotional health, consult with teachers or a guidance counselor who may have information about his/her behavior. If you think there is a problem, seek professional help right away.
A Comprehensive Approach to Behavioral Health
The Saint Barnabas Behavioral Health Network offers an extensive array of high-quality, clinically-focused programs. These programs include Inpatient Services, Access Center - (central screening services), Child & Adolescent Services, Partial Hospitalization, Geriatric Psychiatrist, Intensive Outpatient Programs, Outpatient Counseling Services and Wellness & Prevention Services. For more information on any of these services, please call
Date: April 20, 2008
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