During this time of uprooted patterns, staying at home, and a “new normal,” striving to support mental health is more important than ever.
Michelle Cortez, a Clinician at our Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinics at Endeavors, El Paso says, “Parents can be very helpful by normalizing expression of emotions and validating emotions prior to redirecting a child. As a parent, it is important to remember your child will often look to you to understand their own emotions” Your children are looking up to you, watching you, trusting you to show them how to be a healthy human. And there are plenty of ways to do that.
Check out this list of kid-friendly mental health resources that you can do at home or access online for free.
Even if your kids don’t watch the news every night, that doesn’t mean they haven’t picked up on current tensions and hot topics. To help kids learn about age-appropriate news in just five minutes a day, Emmy-winning news producer and mom Stephanie Kelmar created KiDNuZ, a news podcast just for kids! Episodes include stories from politics, sports, entertainment, health, and science to help kids feel informed but not overwhelmed or anxious.
How many times have we responded “Fine” (even when we aren’t) when someone asks, “How are you?” What if we actually took a minute to consider our day and answer honestly? Would we realize that most days we’re not fine, and we could use help, or that we actually have more good days than we think? Mood 24/7 is a text messaging mood-tracking system (developed by Dr. Adam Kaplan of John Hopkins) that texts you every day and asks you to rate your mood on a scale of one to ten and charts your daily results.
Through the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinics at Endeavors, our clinicians offer face-to-face therapy sessions for military children living in San Antonio, Killeen, and El Paso, Texas. All they need is a computer, tablet, or phone, and they can access high-quality, individualized care from their own home. “Pandemic aside,” says El Paso Cohen Clinic Clinician Manuel A. Hernandez, “CVN provides a variety of therapy services from Play Therapy to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. ” At our Cohen Clinics, we use secure, private HIPAA-compliant video conferencing software to ensure confidential services.
4. Independent Activities
While therapy can be a fantastic resource for treating or preventing mental health issues, it’s not the only resource. Clinician Hernandez says, “The simpler the better, children are great projectors when given a blank medium to reflect on. Jenga blocks become castles and racecars when they are mixed with children’s imagination.” Think dancing, playing outside, drawing, journaling, and finger-painting!
Stretch it out! There are countless studies linking physical movement to strong mental health, and Cosmic Kids Yoga offers free yoga videos specifically designed for kids ages 3+. Just play a video on your laptop or TV, and kids can follow along and practice relaxation and mindfulness. These 7 to 30-minute video sessions feature a fun storytelling component inspired by popular kids’ movies and stories. Think Sleeping Beauty, the Three Little Pigs, and Frozen!
6. Family Emotional Support
Perhaps the biggest way to support your child’s mental health right now (and always) is to encourage emotional openness. El Paso Cohen Clinic Intake Coordinator Katrina Belvin recommends, “Allow your children to feel how they are feeling and empathize with them. They have some big emotions for such tiny humans and sometimes they just need a little empathy to be able to regulate those big emotions.”
About Endeavors and The Cohen Veterans Network
Endeavors is a longstanding national non-profit that provides an array of programs and services in support of children, families, Veterans, and those struggling with mental illness and other disabilities. Endeavors serves vulnerable people in crisis through innovative personalized services. For more information, please visit www.endeavors.org.
The Cohen Veterans Network is a 501(c)(3) national nonprofit, clinically integrated mental health system for post-9/11 veterans and their families. CVN focuses on improving mental health outcomes, with a goal to build a network of outpatient mental health clinics for veterans and their families in high-need communities, in which trained clinicians deliver holistic evidence-based care to treat mental health conditions. Learn more about CVN.