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2008 May is Mental Health Month: Help Kids Thrive Through Better Parent-Child Communication

2008 May is Mental Health Month: Help Kids Thrive Through Better Parent-Child Communication

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (May 5, 2008)-As Americans observe 2008 May is Mental Health Month and National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, Mental Health America asks families to recognize and promote their children’s mental health and overall development through increased communication, guidance and emotional support. The theme for this year’s Mental Health Month is “Get Connected” to emphasize the important role of social relationships in protecting and improving mental health and building resiliency. Research shows that children who feel warmth and caring from their parents are more likely to be successful in school, less anxious and depressed, and have higher self-esteem than those without.

“Having supportive relationships in our lives is essential for success, happiness and, perhaps most importantly, how we deal with adversity,” said David Shern, Ph.D., president & CEO of Mental Health America. “This is especially true for children. By supporting their mental and emotional needs, parents and other family members can help children think clearly, develop socially, learn new skills, build self-esteem and develop a positive mental outlook.”

Here are some easy ways for families to “Get Connected” and build their children’s mental health:

– Give unconditional love. Children need to know that your love does not depend on their accomplishments.

– Nurture confidence and self-esteem. Praise and encourage your children. Set realistic goals. Be honest about your mistakes and avoid sarcasm.

– Encourage 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 after-school activities. 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. If they are home alone, check in on them after school. Children need to know that even if you’re not there physically, you’re thinking about them, and interested in how they spend their day.

– Provide a safe and secure environment. Fear can be very real for a child. Try to find out what is frightening him or her. Be loving, patient and reassuring, not critical.

– Give appropriate guidance and discipline. 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 with your children.

– Get help. If you’re concerned about your child’s mental or emotional health, consult with teachers, a guidance counselor or another adult who may have information about his or her behavior. If you think there is a problem, seek professional help right away. For more information, contact your local Mental Health America affiliate, call Mental Health America at 1-800-969-6642 or visit

Mental Health America founded May is Mental Health Month 50 years ago to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of mental health for all. This year’s theme, “Get Connected” is focused on the important role social connectedness plays in maintaining and protecting mental health and wellness.

Mental Health America is the country’s leading nonprofit dedicated to helping ALL people live mentally healthier lives. With our more than 320 affiliates nationwide, we represent a growing movement of Americans who promote mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation – everyday and in times of crisis.

Posted 5.6.08