NDTV News: World Mental Health Day: How Your Diet Affects Your Mental Well Being.
NDTV News: World Mental Health Day: How Your Diet Affects Your Mental Well Being.
Did you know that a child’s mental health is closely related to learning and development?
Our world is changing. How many times a week do we hear that? How many times a day might one hear it. Over the years, and even while my own boys were growing up and in school, I started noticing that kids are more and more staying out of school for things I would have never got away with as a child. I can remember my parents were stern believers of being in school and unless we had high fevers or injured we were going to school. There was no room for argument with my parents. It’s just how it was when I was younger. School was important and it came first. And if you actually were sick enough to stay out of school, you stayed in your room all day. If you didn’t go to school you didn’t get to do anything. That meant no sports, no friends, nothing.
I recently read a report regarding the effects of staying out of school has on students. According the report put out by the Robert Woods Johnson foundation (http://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2016/09/the-relationship-between-school-attendance-and-health.html) chronic absenteeism is becoming a major concern. This report defines chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 15 days or more of school. I couldn’t locate where they got all of their data but it does list some very good, and important reasons why your child should be getting that end of the school award for 100% attendance.
- Chronically absent from GK-1 can cause reading levels to be behind by third grade which results in 4X the HS drop out rate later in school.
- 10% of Kindergartners are chronically absent
- Chronically absent students have higher rates of health issues later in adulthood
- The percentage of chronically absent students is higher among lower income students and minorities.
- Students who were chronically absent any year between 8th grade and 12th grade are more likely to drop out.
- On average a college graduate will live 9 years longer than a high school graduate.
What I’m seeing now, and in the past 20 years is for students to be out of school for various reasons. I’m not writing this to start a debate about why parents should be allowed to take their children out of school if they want too. You’re the parent. You do what you feel will benefit your child in the long run. If your school feels that taking the day off to attend a parade to honor school athletes is Okay, then go with it! If you feel that taking a few days off for a much needed vacation to Disney is benefiting your child and family, then again, it’s your decision. You are the parent!
Some of the reasons the report listed that students are chronically out of school:
- Physical health; could be student, could be other family member
- Mental health; could be student, could be other family member
- Safety concerns. We are lucky to live in a pretty safe community but others are not so lucky
- Social factors such as hunger, housing, transportation
But, if your child isn’t getting to school because you didn’t feel like getting up in the morning, or you all stayed up too late watching TV the night before, then maybe you might need to read this report.
Feeling stuck trying to get your child to do their homework? Many parents face this nightly problem so don’t feel alone. Sometimes just thinking of those six words “it’s time to do your homework” often cause parents to shutter in anxiety of knowing the struggle of what’s to come.
Let’s face it, for most children, home work isn’t fun. It’s work. ……… “Home WORK”. It’s a chore for not only the child but the parent. Of course in a perfect world the only one doing the “work” will be the child. But let’s face it, we all know the parent has to be the one to set the time, answer questions, and be around to be sure the child does the work. It’s work for parents too. You have things you need to be doing such as fixing dinner, or just relaxing after your own stressful day, and of course your child would much rather be (hopefully) outside playing, hanging out with friends, and just doing anything else.
It can quickly become a power struggle between yourself and your child. Then it becomes a no win situation. You both become frustrated and then what should have taken 30 minutes becomes a 2 hour “hostage” situation.
One thing I know that children need is structure and consistency. Developing a routine is one of the sure fire ways of helping your child feel not only safe and secure, but also helps them develop a sense of mastery as well as helping them develop a positive self esteem. Learning to put time away for important tasks helps them with their own organization skills. A good article to read on the importance of routines can be found here at ahaparenting.
Here are some ways to help your week nights go a little smoother:
- Develop a schedule. Try to have the child do their homework at the same time every evening. Have meals and bedtimes at regular times and give the same consideration to homework. Of course this is easier said than done. If you know there is practice or a game for one of your child’s sports, or activities, be creative. Look for 30 minutes before you leave. The days that you are not headed to a practice of some sort is the days to be sure you have a set time and place to do the work. Let your child help develop this schedule. Allowing them some say can help encourage participation.
- Pick a quiet spot. A place without distractions such as TV, or other activities is a must. A place where younger brother or sister doesn’t interfere. It should be a technology free zone (unless homework involves some type of technology use). If you have more than one child trying to do homework at the same time and place, if they become distractions to each other you might want to find each of them their own place. For some children, having someone else with them to also do work helps, for others it creates a distraction.
- Make sure all material is handy and available before they start. This eliminates “I don’t have a pencil” and other manipulating techniques to get to get out of work.
- Establish clear expectations with rewards and consequences. And I can’t say (write) this enough……. STICK TO IT!!! Rules such as all homework must be turned in on time, and getting no less than a “C” on all homework are also important expectations to have. Rewards can be simple but also must be consistent. Something such as getting all homework done during the evening means an hour of technology at night, or getting “C’s” or above on all homework will get another hour over the weekend.
- A word of caution…… bribes don’t work. You might get them to do their work on an occasion or two with a bribe but in the end what are you teaching them? That you can be manipulated to give them something they want by doing something they were supposed to do in the first place. Rewards aren’t the same as bribes.
Throughout my many years of counseling I have found that, especially over the past 10 years, people are going outside less and less. There are many reasons for this. Look at the modern “conveniences” we now have: shopping in our PJs, conversing with friends and relatives online, endless TV and movies available any time of day, all at our fingertips, and more people now work from home, and many, many other reasons. I couldn’t count the times I’ve worked with a young adult who doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of a “face to face” conversation. “oh! you mean like video chat!”? Hum…………no. But I digress, so I’ll save that soap box for another time.
One of the simplest, and still best ways of helping oneself over come feelings of sadness, and anxiety is to simply…………………..wait for it…………….. GO OUT SIDE! Put down the cell phone, walk away from your screens and go outside.
Now, don’t get me wrong. No, I don’t think that going outside, seeing that great, big, orange, beautiful, ball of energy first thing in the morning is going to completely cure one of all their depression, anxiety and anything else that ails them. But it will help. Studies have proven over and over again that vitamin D is essential for our overall good health. So why is it so hard these days to get off the couch (or away from the computer and phone screens) to walk outside? Especially when it can help in so many ways.
Recently, in the December 2017 edition of Psychology Today I came across an article, once again, describing the benefits of Vitamin D. Go ahead, click the link and read for yourself. It’s called the SUNSHINE VITAMIN.
Benefits of the Sunshine Vitamin include:
- Essential for central nervous system growth and activity
- It is essential for normal development of the brain (during pregnancy, a lack of it could possibly contribute to interruptions in early brain development)
- It helps with immune system.
- Lack of Vitamin D contributes to fragile bones.
- Lowers risk of developing certain diseases
- Boost weight loss
- Helps alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety!
- Known to also help with depression and anxiety.
- It’s good for digestion system, heart, lungs, blood pressure, immune system, etc….
- Helps the mind be sharper and focused.
Sure, you can get some of the benefits of the vitamin in a pill form. But combine the benefits of Vitamin D with a change of scenery (from inside to outside), and fresh air, the possibility of helping yourself overcome some of the stresses in your life just increased.
I know for myself, the feeling of the warm sun on my face or arms is a wonderful feeling. It helps change my mood from negative to positive.
And it’s free! Yes free. Will your problems be magically gone during your time outside, or when you return to your “safe place” inside your home or office? No. But your mind now has something new to focus on which is another benefit of stepping outside, away from the computer, the phone screen, the TV screen, or anything else you are normally concentrating on.
A great activity to help children learn to cope with their anxieties
Already there are numerous studies out supporting the benefits of online counseling. Online counseling refers to counseling services through the internet and can include emails, chat rooms and web cameras. This type of counselling goes by so many names such as cyberspace counselling, e-therapy, e-counselling and tele-counselling. Online counseling isn’t for everyone though. There are a few exceptions to who and what issues will be beneficial or harmful for someone.
Online therapy is growing rapidly. The Internet is not just for chatting with friends and relatives anymore.
The benefits of online counseling:
- It’s often time more convenient. Many people who would love to have the time to sit and talk to someone qualified about their problems simply don’t have the time to wait in an office, then sit for an hour. Or they can’t seem to get an appointment at their own available time and is at the mercy of the counselor to work around their busy schedules. Two people with busy schedules trying to make an appointment to meet is sometimes a chore.
- It can help those who might not otherwise receive counseling due to their locations. There may not be enough or qualified and available counselors in their area.
- More economical. If you are lucky to find a counselor who accepts insurance and this is what you like, then you are a lucky one. Of course using your insurance comes with it’s own set of issues (click here for why many counselors are no longer accepting insurance). Normally online counseling is much more affordable than face to face counseling.
- For those who still feel that counseling has a social stigma attached, it’s more private. Those who wouldn’t normally go to a counselors office due to feeling that someone they know might see them it is would be a real benefit. In today’s every changing electrical world, where many people live there lives through electronic media, this way of counseling also offers them more ways to express themselves. Expressing oneself through texting, messaging, and video chats is how many of this generation express themselves.
A little about the disadvantages:
- Reading tones and body language is gone. Non verbal and verbal cues can be misread or are non existent. Traditional counseling relies often times on verbal and nonverbal cues as another form of communication as well as to help the counseling gain insight into thoughts and feelings that a client is often unable to express.
- Like anything else online, confidentiality can not be guaranteed. Though everything is done to assure complete confidentiality, being online opens oneself up to the possibility of being hacked or security breached. This too is an unfortunate reality of today’s wired world.
- Technical difficulties can happen. Internet can go down, computers do crash, phones stop working.
- Not in “real time”. Many online modes of counseling such as message counseling are not in “real time”. That means that you may send a message to your counselor and not hear back for several hours and vs versa.
- Ethical considerations. Let’s face it, online counseling is new. Like everything new, there will be problems, and these problems are what lead to change in laws and regulations. Right now, very few states have laws governing online counseling. This is changing though. Is your counseling who they say they are? Do they have the qualifications to counseling online? Are they licensed?
If you are considering online counseling please do your research about the counselor. Are they knowledgeable and skilled in the area of your problems? Remember that online counseling is not for everyone. If you are suicidal please contact crisis text line or 1-800-273-(talk)8255
If you are over the age of 18 and wish to try online counseling with me please click the Better Help link below. I am currently taking new online clients through this site as I have found it to be secure as reasonably possible and a good way of using online counseling. They are currently offering the first week free though this could change at any time.
Sometimes as parents, we don’t always know when our child needs help that as a parent, they may not can give them. Are you a parent who is concerned that it might be time to seek counseling for a child?
Is your child suddenly declining in the school work?
Do you feel your child may be worrying more than other children (anxiety among children is on a steady incline)
Has your child suddenly started refusing to go to school or join in normal activities they once enjoyed?
Have they started having nightmares?
Has your once well behaved child begun to be more aggressive or disobedient?
Does your child seem sad or depressed?
Does it seem like your teen has suddenly “shut down” or started spending more and more time alone, in their room, avoiding the family?
Has there been any major changes in your household such as a divorce, separation, major illness of a loved one or even a death in the family?
Children’s mental health problems can occur just as easily as they can in adults and like adults they are treatable. Some studies have shown that one child in five may have a diagnosable mental health problem which can be helped but nearly two thirds of these children get little to no help and are left to deal with it on their own.
A mental health issue a child is dealing with can disrupt their home and school and often times there is a possible increased risk of school failure, problems with the law, and sometime suicide. It has been reported that children as young as 5 have attempted suicide. Some have succeeded.
While many childhood problems go away in time, if you are concerned about your child and feel that there may be something going on more than “normal childhood” problems, then seek out the advice of your local pediatrician or family doctor or a local mental health professional.
If your in the Andalusia, Alabama area call for a free and confidential consult 334-222-7094