Mental health issues are often swept under the carpet especially in regard to young children. Childhood is supposed to be a pretty relaxed time of life, free from the pressures and stresses that can come hand in hand with adulthood. Or is it?

Some of the experts don’t think so. In the Sunday Herald Sun magazine two weeks ago Angela Mollard (Weekend Today) spoke of children ‘getting old before their time’. She gave her opinion about the pressure put on children to achieve these days and the anxiety it causes. “It’s all about marks and measures and motivation levels, rather than childhood being about wonder & curiosity & mud fights” she said. She cited a clinical psychologist who confirmed the high levels of anxiety among this ‘coached and extra curricula driven generation’.

Parenting expert, Michael Grose says…“It seems strange to talk about promoting good mental health in children. Shouldn’t all children naturally have good mental health habits? But he reports that in reality: After surveying 10,000 primary aged students in 2007,Australian academic Michael Bernard (Professor:Melbourne University) found that…

  • 40% of children reported low levels of social and emotional problems
  • 31% reported feeling very stressed and 20% reported feeling sad or depressed for a week or more.

And… according to the Australian Psychological Society one in seven Australian children experience some type of mental health issue, with ADHD, anxiety and depression being the most common kind. So what can we do to help? Angela Mollard challenges us as parents today to recalibrate our notion of success and alter our priorities in terms of what we teach our children.

Michael Grose has 5 mental health habits to promote in kids. Dr Felice Jacka from Deakin University in Geelong, turns our thoughts to exercise suggesting that “physical activity may be a protective factor against the development of depression”.

Shaun Tan & Judith Viorst have written books to help us in troubled times. Interested in finding out more?


Michael Grose presents…

5 mental health habits to promote in kids…

As a parent it’s useful to reflect on the mental health habits that you promote in your kids.

Here are five basic mental health habits that you can consider:

1. SLEEP: One of the single, most powerful strategies to improve kids’ ability to cope with stressful or hanging situations is to ensure they get enough sleep.

2. EXERCISE: Exercise stimulates the chemicals that improve mood and release the stress that builds up over a day.

3. HELP OTHERS: Social isolation is a huge predictor of poor mental health. Helping others reinforces social connectedness and the importance of being part of a community, as well as providing opportunities for positive recognition.

4. TALK: Kids often can’t tell you what may be wrong, so be observant and gently ask questions to help you get a clearer picture of how kids may be feeling.

5. RELAXATION: Make sure your child has a hobby or activity that relaxes them. The ability to relax & get away from the stresses of everyday life is essential.     Michael Grose: Parenting Ideas

As a parent, which of Michael Grose’s 5 tips works best for your child, or which one is the most difficult to implement? Love to hear your thoughts.