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As part of our ongoing efforts to support the health and well-being of our haumāna, the Kamehameha Schools Mālama Ola Division presents the Mālama Ola Minute series. This month, we are debunking myths around children's mental health.

Mālama Ola Minute: Debunking myths about children's mental health

May 1, 2024

For National Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s shine a light on the essential role parents play in nurturing their child’s mental well-being! It’s important to debunk common misconceptions and embrace the realities of children’s mental health with a positive, proactive outlook.

Myth: Children are too young to experience mental health challenges.
Mental health issues can affect anyone regardless of age. Awareness and early detection are key. Keep an attentive eye on your child’s behavior. While they may not always express what’s bothering them verbally, they can express these challenges nonverbally (i.e. tantrums, outbursts and withdrawal). Changes like poor academic performance and mood swings can be signs your keiki is struggling.

Myth: My teen isn’t depressed, they’re just moody.
Adolescence can be a tumultuous time but persistent periods of sadness, irritability or lack of focus could signal deeper issues like depression or anxiety. Parents: encourage your teenager to engage in activities they enjoy, prioritize getting enough sleep and maintain a healthy diet. Open communication and seeking support can equip them with the tools to be more resilient.

Myth: Bad parenting causes mental disorders.
While home environments and relationships can exacerbate mental health struggles, parental support and understanding are crucial in the healing process. Mākua: Create a time and space for your children to share their feelings without fear or judgment. Consider seeking guidance from mental health professionals, who can help you better understand the mental health issues that arise, and develop strategies for managing them. Last but not least, take care of your own mental health so that you can be there for your children.

Myth: Therapy for kids is a waste of time.
Early intervention through therapy can significantly improve a child’s well-being and pave the way for a healthy adulthood. Effective therapy that aligns with your family’s needs can make a meaningful difference. Inquire with your child’s healthcare provider as an initial step.

Remember, it is important to dispel these kinds of stereotypes surrounding mental health for any age group. By recognizing the signs, seeking professional help and providing a supportive environment, we can ensure that our keiki receive the care they need for a healthy and happy future.

For more information:
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Mental Health America of Hawaiʻi
Mālama Ola: Student and ‘ohana resources

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