How to support children’s mental health during tricky times

Category: Children, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Family, Grandparents

The importance of looking after our mental health, and more importantly that of our children, has never been more important. The last 12 months has certainly seen a seemingly endless number of challenges for adults but especially children. Parents and carers all want to be able to protect their children from harm in any way. However sometimes it’s easy to overlook the fact that young children can suffer from mental health issues. We often associate problems like anxiety or stress with the highs and lows of adult life. Unfortunately these can seriously impact children too.

It is estimated that 3 children in every primary school class (aged between 5 and 11) have difficulties with their mental health. This can come from several factors including classroom bullying, anxiety caused by separation or bereavement.

children's mental health

Children’s Mental Health Week

The importance of mental and emotional well-being has been at the forefront of many people’s minds recently. Children’s Mental Health Week will run from 1 to 7 February 2021. This aims to provide parents and carers with positive ways that they can encourage and support children during this period of uncertainty. 

Advice and assistance is offered in relation to the role of home-schooling. It also ensures that children remain positive and feel connected to their peers. It aims to encourage children to talk more openly about their feelings and provides their ‘makeshift teacher’ parents with some much needed ideas on how to entertain them whilst schools are still out. Those parents reading this will know just much of a challenge this can be!

This is the 7th year that ‘Children’s Mental Health’ week has run. Each year it has focused on fun activities and how to encourage them to open up and share their feelings.

This years theme is ‘Express Yourself’. In a year where we have had to spend the majority of time inside and away from family and friends, this is particularly apt. It will encourage children to focus on themselves and share their feelings. Over the last 7 years, the importance of children doing this has never been so great.

children's mental health

Sources of stress and ways we can help

Marriage breakdown or issues concerning child contact can unfortunately have a negative impact on adult mental health. This is stimulated by stress and anxiety about financial matters and possibly arrangements for the children. No parent or carer would wish to see these ‘adult issues‘ have a negative impact on their child’s mental health too. Wherever possible, most will make great efforts to protect children from emotional upset.

Here at Nash and Co Solicitors in Plymouth, our Family lawyers are on hand to offer support and advice to parents and carers alike. Most will have concerns about children’s emotional and mental well-being during the course of legal proceedings. We absolutely appreciate just how stressful this process can be for everyone and particularly children. So we can signpost you to appropriate support whenever necessary. We’ll always guide you through the legal process, and we’ll listen to your concerns, especially those about your children. We can then provide you with specific tailored advice regarding your situation.

Our Family team take all steps possible to ensure that you, as a parent or carer, are aware of your legal rights and responsibilities. This enables you to better understand the steps you can take to support yourself and the children.

Helping your child

You may feel that your child is in need of extra support with their mental health or emotional wellbeing. This could particularly be the case while they adjust to any change in routine or relationship breakdown. This is not unusual and there are a number of ways that parents and carers can get the support required.

If your child is of school age then schools are often happy to help. They can  provide welfare support to children in the school environment or signpost you to a more specialist service if necessary.

Parental Responsibilty

We get asked about ‘Parental Responsibility’ a lot- what this is and what you can do with it if you hold it for your child. Parental Responsibility refers to the rights and responsibilities you have for your child and their property. It enables you to make decisions for your child about their education, medical treatment and religion to name just a few.

Parents and carers with ‘Parental Responsibility’ are entitled to speak to the school about the welfare of their child and any support services that may be able to be offered. Parental Responsibility allows you to have copies of school reports and information held about your child by the school. Access to these may help you understand the needs of your child and how you can help.

As someone with Parental Responsibility, you may have concerns that your child is struggling. As we mentioned earlier, the impact on their mental health can be huge. If this is the case, you can take your child to their GP. They can refer your child for counselling or recommend a service for you to engage with to ensure they receive support.

We know that anything that changes the family dynamic can be stressful and worrying. We are committed to helping you and your children to achieve the best outcome for you in a way that aims to build bridges between parties and not destroy them further.

Putting children’s mental health first in family law matters

Our team is committed to working in accordance with Resolution’s Code of Practice. This focuses on conducting matters in a ‘collaborative and non-confrontational way’. Together with years of experience, all of our Family Lawyers have undertaken their training with Resolution. This means that we will always work to reduce the negative impact of legal matters when it comes to children’s mental health.

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What now?

If you have any questions about children’s mental health and family law, please speak to us. You can speak to our Family team on 01752 827030 or you can email us at [email protected]

You can also ask us to call you back by filling out the Call Back Request form on our Contact Page.