Instructor Kara O’Brien
December 19, 2011
Childhood Mental Health and Wellbeing
Doing the research I can see that there is a lot of mental illness in adults, but we don’t think about children as having mental illness. Many people still feel shame about admitting they are having problems with mental illness. As teachers we need to be aware that children can suffer from many different types of mental illness some are inherited and others are caused by ecological factors. When we look at the fact that 20 to 50 percent of children and teenagers who have some form of depression have some form of depression in their blood relatives (Risk Factors related to Childrens Mental health, 2011). As teachers we can help children learn skills to deal with difficulty dissension will help them benefit throughout their lives.
There are many biological factors that can contribute to mental illness in children. One of the biological factors is that children of parents who suffer depression are three times more likely to suffer from a depressive disorder children of non depressed parents (Risk Factors related to Childrens Mental health, 2011). Our DNA is also a factor in determining if we will develop mental illness. Humans receive 50% of their genetic material from each parent and as a result we can develop a mental disorder that neither parent experiences (Causes of mental illness). There are many environmental factors that can lead to mental illness. The Streptococcus family of bacteria has been linked to the development of Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder (PANDA) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (Causes of mental illness). Some infections and brain damage at birth or in infancy can increase the risk of developing mental illness (Causes of mental illness). Even something like a traumatic birth and delay in breathing can contribute to the child developing a mental illness later on. Exposure to environmental toxins can cause damage to the developing brains of young children. If a child has underprivileged nutrition can cause the brain to not develop properly and can lead the child to having trouble with depression and other mental disorders. Severe psychological trauma can lead a child to having mental or emotional problems later in life (Causes of mental illness). A psychological trauma can be in the form of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse (Causes of mental illness). If a child suffers from emotional trauma like neglect, death of a parent, divorce, of dysfunctional family life this can cause the child to have difficulty relating to others, would not trust anyone, poor emotional attachment and difficulty in maintaining healthy relationships. Children and adolescents who abuse drugs and or alcohol are more likely to have depressive episodes and mental illness (Causes of mental illness). In a ideal world we would not have to concern about all of these environmental factors that can lead to mental illness but the depressing certainty as teachers we need to really watch for the signs and symptoms of depression and other mental illnesses. In early childhood we can teach children skills that can help encourage good mental health. We can teach children how to handle change in a positive and healthy way (Strategies and tips for good mental health). If we can teach children how to maintain steadiness in their life by maintaining balance between; work, play, and rest (Strategies and tips for good mental health). If we teach children how to build and maintain relationships at an early age this will be beneficial throughout their life (Strategies and tips for good mental health). As with anyone self confidence and self esteem are important in childhood and adulthood and if as teacher we help foster these skills in children they will be healthier when they turn into adults. The strategies that have been proven to work for promoting a positive environment for good mental health and learning are common sense items but very important. The first and one of the most important is building a relationship with each child (Sorte, 2011, p. 441). Working with each family is important to having positive results (Sorte, 2011, p. 441). Be aware of each child’s specific challenges (Sorte, 2011, p. 441). You need to be sure that your curriculum is developmentally appropriate for the students in your class (Sorte, 2011, p. 441). As a teacher you need to be consistent and flexible (Sorte, 2011, p. 441). The classroom should be a safe and calm environment for all children (Sorte, 2011). Teacher need to remember that not all children learn the same ways and use as many sensory channels as possible (Sorte, 2011, p. 441). We as teacher need to support all children in times a transition, and promote the social and emotional development (Sorte, 2011, p. 441). These strategies are a good guideline for making the classroom a safe healthy nurturing environment that will promote the child’s wellbeing. When dealing with children that have mental illness we need to be part of their support team. If we can help them to achieve good mental health with skills and support they will thrive and learn to their fullest potential. As teacher our job is to help children learn the necessary skills to become healthy, happy adults.
Causes of mental illness. (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2011, from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com Risk Factors related to Childrens Mental health. (2011, December 8). Retrieved December 10, 2011, from Caction. org: http://www.caction.org/health/prescriptionfrowwellness/mentalhealth/child/riskfactors. htm
Sorte, I. D. (2011). Nutrition, Health, and Safety for young children. Upper Saddle River, New Jersy: Pearson Educational Inc. Strategies and tips for good mental health. (n.d.). Retrieved december 8, 2011, from Improving mental health: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/mental_eemotionalhealth.htn