Mental health and the human experience
Perhaps more than ever, people are aware of and support mental health. We’ve talked about it many times: here (a morning routine for mental health) and here (your child’s mental health and COVID-19) to name a few. Consider a slightly different perspective. Oftentimes the term “mental health” simply refers to the breadth of the human experience. Supporting that comes down to just a few things:
Allow the full spectrum of emotions.
Understand that your child feeling difficult emotions and working through tough situations builds strength. From sadness to fear to rejection to betrayal – while all difficult to experience – they are normal, natural emotions.
If your child usually gets a nervous stomach and jitters before a big test, don’t tell her to push those sensations away or tell her there’s no need to be scared. If she believes there’s something wrong with feeling nervous, or she labels it as “anxiety” and fears it growing into a full-blown attack, the emotions that she hopes to put off-limits will only grow stronger.
Instead, encourage her to acknowledge how her stomach feels, how her heart is beating, if her breath is deep or shallow. And then help her clue in to other physical sensations, like her feet snug in her shoes and securely grounded on the floor. The feel of her diaphragm filling with a slow, long breath of air. Perhaps she can picture a big bear hug from you after school, or the comfort of her favorite stuffy waiting for her at home.
Bolster support with a strong community.
Isolation serves as a key ingredient that turns an otherwise difficult situation into a crisis. When a friend loses a family member, you can’t take away the pain or lighten the grief. But you can bring meals, offer to take their kids to school, and help them navigate the logistics of death (funeral, estate, etc.)
Find your people and build that support system, through the good times and bad. Whether you celebrate a promotion with others or ask for help when you’re overwhelmed, life is better lived in community.
Help your kids do the same. Find caring, safe adults whom they can reach out to. Get to know their friends and their friends’ families. Normalize offering to help others in a struggle as well as asking for help when needed.
Admit that you’re not an expert in everything.
Asking for help is not limited to our friends and family.
No one expects you to build your own house. Or fix your car’s transmission. Or perform a root canal. And you can’t solve all of your and your kids’ problems.
Sometimes our experiences push us beyond what we can handle. That’s normal too. Therapy, medical doctors, pastors or spiritual advisors, and other professionals offer expertise and skills to support our minds, bodies, and spirits.
While everyone struggles with mental health at times, the framework they use makes the difference between believing there’s something wrong with them or that this is a normal part of the human experience.
Be encouraged: struggling with and supporting mental health is a normal part of the human experience. We’re all in this together.
If you are looking for a charter school with a strong community that nurtures our students and teachers, you’ve found it! We are a K-8 nationally awarded charter school of excellence with an advanced learning curriculum. In addition to online learning, we have campuses in Phoenix and Mesa.