Mental health and children

Good mental health is critical to the wellbeing and development of every child. Helping build resilience and positive self-esteem, good mental health will enable your child to build respectful relationships as they grow up.

A child's mental health is influenced by many things; family circumstances, friendship groups and school and life experience. While children of any age can experience mental health challenges, they are most at risk between 12 and 16 years.

Signs of stress and anxiety in children How you can help

Good mental health is critical to the wellbeing and development of every child.

Signs of anxiety and stress in children

  • Aggression, irritability, bullying
  • Crying and tearfulness
  • Physical complaints such as stomach aches and headaches
  • Appetite and sleep changes
  • Trouble with memory and concentration
  • Refusing to attend school
  • Withdrawal from social interactions and pleasurable activities

What parents can do to help

  • Ask your child how they are feeling and thinking. Encourage children to talk about their thoughts and feelings. Sometimes children can better express their feelings through play than through words, so make time to play with them.
  • Talk to your child about your feelings. Express your feelings honestly, but do your best to avoid alarming or upsetting your child further.
  • Monitor media exposure. Limit the amount of time your child listens to media reports. If children are viewing media stories of distressing events, it is best to watch with them.
  • Reassure children. Children need comfort, reassurance and support, and to know that they are safe and are being looked after.
  • Allow your child to retain as much of their daily routines as possible during stressful times. Maintaining familiar schedules can help reduce anxiety in children and re-establish a feeling of normalcy.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Good nutrition and regular exercise and play are essential to mental health and wellbeing.
  • 25 everyday ways to improve your child’s mental health

Need more help?
If you’d like to find out more, or talk to someone:

Boost wellbeing at your school

From our Preschool Program to Harold's Friend Ship, Growing Good Friends and Relate, Respect Connect, Life Education can help students at your school understand wellbeing and build the skills they need to make healthy choices and create healthy relationships in their lives. 

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