Promoting Emotional Health and Well-being
If you know a young person who is struggling with a problem, big or small, encourage them to contact us. We’re free, anonymous, confidential, and available 24/7/365.
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Resources Around Me
When we look back on the early years of our lives, it is often easy to remember them as happy, carefree times. It’s important, however, to remember that for the young people living through them, it is also often a tumultuous time full of change, insecurity, and uncertainty. It can easily be overwhelming, which is why we need to be aware of the emotional health and well-being of the children we care about.
Things you can do starting now
- Reflect that you value and accept your child for who they are. Don’t assume that they already know it or don’t need to hear it again.
- Communicate with your child. Encourage them to talk about what’s happening in their lives – both the good and the bad – while respecting that they may not want to disclose everything. Young people can keep secrets from their parents for many reasons, but if a foundation of trust and understanding is in place they will be more likely to reach out when they really need help.
- Make an effort to really listen and hear what your child is telling you. Reflect that you “get it” when you do, and ask for clarification when you don’t. Show them that you want to understand them.
- Let your child know that you are a person they can talk to. Explicitly tell them that you’re open to talking about the really tough stuff, and that there’s nothing they could tell you that would damage the relationship irreparably. If you feel you’re not the right individual for this role, lead them to someone who can be there for them.
- Model appropriate and healthy emotional responses and relationships with others.
- Be open to a variety of kinds of communication. Some young people might find it really difficult to talk in person, and are more comfortable with an email or written note. Ask your child what works best for them and try to work with it.
- Avoid involving your child in adult problems. For example: relationship problems, monetary struggles, employment challenges.
- Work on your own mental health literacy. You can learn more about emotional health and wellness from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health: camh.ca.
- Reflect on your own views of mental health. Pay attention to the way you react to stories of people who experience mental health challenges. Be mindful of how you talk about and react to stories in the media surrounding mental illness.
- Be informed. Ask questions and start dialogues about mental health and wellness with adults and young adults in your life.
Here’s an idea
Consider creating a set of codes or signals that your child can use when they want to let you know that they have something important to talk about. Signals could be anything: code words; a cryptic email message; the placement of a fridge magnet. Having this sort of system in place is a concrete way of letting your child know that you are open to talking about the tough stuff and that you will be there when they need you. It also gives you some time to prepare yourself to deal with something that can be emotionally challenging.
You can find mental health and wellness services for young people in your community by connecting with our free, interactive tool, Resources Around Me. It is the largest database of youth-serving programs and services in Canada and is available in English and French, through Kids Help Phone’s website.