Mental Health: MIND The Children
Children are NOT little adults, no matter how much they resemble the adults that bought them into this world. They have their own distinctive mental development and needs. So hushed are our brains in their day-to-day operations, we are inclined to miss what an extraordinary and complicated achievement it is to feel mentally well.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exerted a considerable impact on the mental health of children, with the new norm being social distancing and restriction of movements. Child Space Organization, prior to the pandemic, thrived in bringing the children together using dance, art, modeling, and poems to help the children cope with issues of mental illnesses by channeling their energy into productive activities.
The arrival of COVID-19 has been a major impediment to consistency because gathering has been disallowed. The Ministry of Education calendar is also forcing some of the children to miss our sessions because they are in school on Saturdays thus affecting the flow of our programs.
To be able to fully appreciate what mental wellness entails we first have to take a moment to consider the admirable yet often ignored processes that go on in the folds of an optimally functioning mind.
A HEALTHY MIND IS A CENSORING MIND
It has the ability to sieve from thousands of haphazard, sensational, or horrifying thoughts; keeping at bay discriminatory and critical judgment that may want to tell us how horrible we are as humans.
A HEALTHY MIND TAMES THE CLAWS OF UNHEALTHY COMPARISON
It doesn’t allow the achievements of others to throw us off course and reduce us to a state of resentfulness.
A HEALTHY MIND KEEPS A SENSIBLE GRIP ON THE FLOW OF FEAR
In theory, a million and one things could worry us and send us into a state of panic. What if we run out of oxygen on earth? The mind is able to differentiate between what is conceivably to happen and what is in practicality likely to happen.
Development psychopathy is the opposite of mental development; it is when things go wrong. One needs to understand the following when dealing with developmental psychopathy.
IT HAS MULTIPLE SOURCES
Through Skills-based Health Education, CSO has embraced the multi-faceted aspect of mental health challenges. This has been done through the application of Skills-Based Health Education, in particular, life skills to areas such as teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS prevention, Reproductive Health, and Drug and Substance Abuse. All of which have their consequences leading to mental illnesses.
CHILDREN ARE FLEXIBLE
When children are exposed to something they adapt to cope with it. A criminologist once said that, when one first comes into contact with crime, they abhor it. If they remain in contact with crime they become accustomed to it and endure it. If they remain in contact with it long enough they finally embrace it and become influenced by it. This can be said about a child’s mind in response to their environment.
What is normal at one age may not be considered normal at another age. A child can wet the bed at 6 months but when an 8-year old does the same it is considered alarming.
For a child who has grown up in a violent home, violence is normal to them. This is however not the case for a child who has been exposed to peace.
Preventing child psychopathy is important because many adult mental health issues begin as childhood problems.
CATEGORIES OF CHILDREN, MENTAL DISORDERS
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Eating disorders (Bulimia)
ASSESSMENT AND TREATMENT
It is more difficult to assess and treat children’s mental illnesses because they are unable to verbalize some things. Much is left at the mercies of the observing eye. The information is gained from the adults and may or may not be appropriate when diagnosing a child.
There is a concern for danger when using psychological medication on children because of the lack of research on the effects of drugs on these specific age groups.
THE MOST FREQUENTLY DIAGNOSED MOOD DISORDERS IN TEENS
- Depression disorders
- Bipolar Disorder
- Dysthymic disorder
Approximately 2 out of 3 children with major Depression Disorders also have another mental health disorder. In 15-19 age groups, boys are four times more likely to commit suicide than girls, but girls are twice as likely to attempt.
Child Space organization is committed to holistic child development with a mission to guide the children through life skills and other pertinent training in order to explore their potential and support them to live responsibly.
We focus on four major development areas when dealing with children’s mental health.
With Bowlby’s theory of attachment that states; the child’s later attachment reflect the earlier relationship with the mother in mind, Child Space Organization (CSO) has used its Parents + program to build the capacity of parents in matters of parenting and empowerment.
This proper parental bonding leads to better language development. Poor language development takes a toll on the academic performance of a child which is in itself a development issue.
Through interactions with other children, the child learns how to compromise and suppress their own desires for communal goals. Through the Smart Children Clubs, CSO has enabled the children both boys and girls from ages 8-17 years to understand who they are as they interact with their peers and form positive behaviors which is a process.
Let’s learn to talk about mental health and take a step forward as a society. Always remember that as a child, your mental health doesn’t define you. Mental health is not the ability to stay out of darkness rather it is the ability to sit in the darkness with the hope that light will shine again.