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Spot the signs – empowering parents and carers to spot mental health issues

A mental health charity is encouraging parents to be aware of the signs of mental health issues in children and young people as we come out of lockdown.

Action Mental Health works with parents and carers, teaching them to recognise mental health issues that children and young people in their care may be facing.

The charity is warning that there could be an increase in mental health issues faced by children and young people as we deal with the fallout of lockdown and its impact on our younger generations.

The charity is urging parents and carers to spot the signs of mental ill-health such as:

  • Persistent sadness;
  • Withdrawing from or avoiding social interactions;
  • Hurting or talking about hurting yourself;
  • Talking about death or suicide;
  • Outbursts of anger or extreme irritability;
  • Excessive worrying or fear;
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating;
  • Extreme mood changes.

One tried and tested approach towards promoting overall wellbeing is the Take Five Steps to Wellbeing. The steps remind people to Stay Connected; Be Active; Keep Learning; Take Notice and Give.

Mental health issues

Further advice and support can be found on the Covid Wellbeing NI website which the charity is contributing to in partnership with 15 other mental health charities, as well as the Public Health Agency and the Departments for Communities and Health.

Operations Manager of Resilience and Wellbeing at Action Mental Health, Amanda Jones said: “Lockdown has been a rollercoaster for most adults, so it’s important we don’t forget that it will also have had very significant impacts on our children and young people. Many of them left school without any sense of closure or being able to say goodbye to friends and teachers. Children may carry these burdens and it could have a detrimental impact on them.

“As many of us try to balance home-schooling, childcare and working at home, it is important that we support parents and carers to look out for signs of mental ill health and encourage them to talk to children and young people about these issues.

“Empowering parents to broach issues like this can help mitigate against the very worst impacts of this virus on our collective mental health and wellbeing. Through honest conversations and acknowledging thoughts and feelings, children and young people can become more aware of emotional health and may engage more with the idea of wellbeing.

“Action Mental Health are very aware that the long term impacts of the global health crisis may not be known for a long time, but we know children and young people will face significant issues as a result of the legacy of Covid-19. We need to act now to protect against this.

“The enormous shift in life for many will have major effects moving forward. Services including the Covid Wellbeing NI Hub are good resources for mental health coping strategies and should be utilised to help both parents and the young people and children they are looking after.”