A little more talk about mental health

The concept of mental health does not include only mental illnesses and disorders, but also: resilience, ability to think, dealing with feelings, behaving assertively and problem-solving. The WHO argues that mental health develops in early childhood, in particular between birth and two years of age, yet this aspect of children’s health is very often ignored.

Babies are born pre-programmed for survival, fitting into their environment as best they can, whether it is good, bad or indifferent. Relationships with primary caregivers have a physical effect on the neurobiological structure of the infant’s brain where synapses, or connections, are formed at the rate of one million per second based on the child’s experience at that exact moment. Most of this “hard-wiring” happens before the age of two, after which it becomes harder to wire the brain for present and future wellbeing.

Several different types of mental disorders that can affect children and adolescents, including:
(1) Anxiety disorders: Children with anxiety disorders respond to certain things or situations with fear and dread, as well as with physical signs of anxiety (nervousness)
(2) Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Children with ADHD generally have problems paying attention or concentrating, cant seem to follow directions, and are easily bored and/or frustrated with tasks
(3) Disruptive behavior disorders: Children with these disorders tend to defy rules and often are disruptive in structured environments, such as school
(4) Pervasive development disorders: Children with these disorders are confused in their thinking and generally have problems understanding the world around them
(5) Eating disorders: Eating disorders involve intense emotions and attitudes, as well as unusual behaviors associated with weight and/or food
(6) Elimination disorders: Disorders that affect behavior related to using the bathroom. Enuresis, or bed-wetting, is the most common of the elimination disorders
(7) Learning and communication disorders: Children with these disorders have problems storing and processing information, as well as relating their thoughts and ideas
(8) Affective (mood) disorders: These disorders involve persistent feelings of sadness and/or rapidly changing moods, and include depression and bipolar disorder
(9) Schizophrenia: This disorder involves distorted perceptions and thoughts
(10) Tic disorders: These disorders cause a person to perform repeated, sudden, involuntary (not done on purpose), and often meaningless movements and sounds, called tics

Unfortunately, there are no vaccines to protect children from mental health problems. The term mental illness is not entirely accurate, because there are many physical factors -- including heredity and brain chemistry -- that might be involved in the development of a mental disorder. As such, many mental disorders can be effectively treated with medication, psychotherapy (a type of counseling), or a ...

The best way to immunise children against mental health difficulties is to explicitly raise the concept with parents at the regular health checks and clearly identify the connections between all aspects of a child’s development and their mental health....