Ask any Gen-Xer what summertime was like for them as a child, and you’ll hear things like, “Playing outside until the street lamps came on.” And, “Hopping on my bike and riding to the other side of the neighborhood.” Or even, “Hanging out at the community pool while my parents worked.” Compare those answers to the kind that you’d get from kids today, “I’m going to a 3-week overnight camp.” Or, “My parents are scheduling different play dates for me.”
As parents of tweens and teens, we must have so many challenging conversations with our children. We talk to them about the dangers of smoking, alcohol and drugs. We speak to them about their maturing bodies and responsible dating. We talk about limiting their Internet exposure and their screen time. And that’s just a short list. Even with the importance of all of these conversations, there’s one topic that we collectively miss the mark with – the mental health of our children. Amid all of these well-intentioned talks and concerns about other topics, 1 in 5 of our children are experiencing a mental illness. And when the possible outcome of an undiagnosed mental illness can literally be the difference between life and death, it’s not a topic we should or can ignore. The Strong Minds and Happy Hearts program helps bring awareness and the needed attention to this critical issue.
Topics: Parent's Perspective
Think back on when a friend or loved one has had a significant health setback. When we speak with that friend, we often ask for the physical details of their condition and then inevitably, we pose a variation of this question, “How are your spirits?” Why do we ask that? Well, it seems that we all have an intrinsic idea that the health of mind has an important correlation to the well being of the physical self. Even with this seemingly recognized connection, medical health care and mental health care have historically been separated. As the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health points out, “The physical health care system is not set up to address behavioral health problems, and the mental health and substance abuse treatment systems are not set up to address medical problems.” Until now. Lately, there has been a push for collaboration between the two disciplines.