By Monica Nunes, CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre
Parenting and family life play a pivotal role in the health and well-being of children and youth. In some cases, combined with other determinants of health, families can increase the risk that leads to childhood mental health problems or unhealthy behaviors. On the other hand, parents, caregivers and families can also promote the protective factors that buffer children from risk and increase their resiliency to bounce back from difficult situations.
Research shows that the protective factors that parents and families can facilitate might include, among others, developing positive attachment between parents and children, providing age appropriate supervision and monitoring, promoting mutual respect of all family members and encouraging open communication.
When it comes to communication in families, there can be some topics that parents and caregivers are eager to broach with their children but they may not know where to begin. Mental health and mental illness might be one of those topics. To support parents in having these conversations, on January 28th during Bell Let's Talk Day, Ottawa Public Health launched a new campaign that calls on families to Have That Talk. The campaign includes a video series designed to answer common questions parents have about their child's mental health.
The video series, available in both English and French, comprises of four parts with each part responding to several questions on a related topic. The videos provide information relevant to parents who have a child that is stressed, depressed or suicidal. Content in the video is shared by professionals with expertise on a given topic such as a public health nurse. Overall, the goal of the campaign is to give parents the knowledge and resources they need to talk about mental health with their child or teen. Not only is knowledge power, but when it comes to informing some discussions parents have with their children it may even be lifesaving.
Finally, if you'd like to share other helpful resources that can assist parents, families and caregivers in addressing mental health in their children and teens, feel free to post them in the comments section of this blog post!