World Mental Health Day 2023

The theme for World Mental Health Day 2023 is ‘Mental health is a universal human right.‘ October 10, 2023 is dedicated to promoting mental health and well-being globally. Individuals and communities can unite to increase awareness, knowledge, and actions.

Fundamental Rights

Mental health is a fundamental human right that should be available to all individuals, regardless of background or location. It encompasses the right to protection against mental health hazards, the right to accessible, adequate and high-quality mental health care, and the right to liberty, self-sufficiency, and community participation. Despite the conflicts we are witnessing in the Middle East, we hope peace will ultimately triumph in these challenging times.

How Do We Help Our Children?

Conversing with children or youth can be tricky, particularly when they have been exposed to distressing events through the media. Your personal circumstances can also make the situation even more challenging. Just the thought of discussing these events can trigger stress and discomfort.

Talking Helps

When talking to children about world events, tailor conversations to their age and developmental level. Younger children require more straightforward explanations, while older ones may need more detailed information.

Limit Social Media

Reminding children and youth to limit their exposure to news and social media updates about the on-going conflict is important. Constant exposure to graphic images and distressing information can be overwhelming for them.

Create Safe Spaces

Create a safe space where they feel comfortable asking questions and expressing their feelings. Reassure them that you are there to listen and provide support whenever they need it.

Parent Tips

  • Provide accurate information, but avoid overwhelming details. Stick to the facts and use language appropriate for their age. Encourage children/youth to ask questions and express their concerns. Address their questions honestly and without judgement.
  • Acknowledge and validate their feelings and let them know that it’s normal to feel a wide range of emotions (feelings) in response to distressing events (or associated behaviour). Help them differentiate between facts, opinions, and biases.
  • Discuss the importance of peace, understanding, and working towards a better future. Highlight stories of people coming together to promote unity in the community. Promote empathy, tolerance, perseverance, and respect for diverse perspectives. Encourage open-mindedness and understanding of different cultures and viewpoints through hope and resilience.

Self-care Matters

Prioritising your well-being is crucial. Teaching children and young people about resilience, empathy, and effective coping mechanisms is invaluable. Open and honest communication can create a supportive environment where children and youth can process their emotions and better comprehend complex world events.

Resources are Available

If your child is facing difficulties, it’s essential to connect with their educator or administrator for supportive measures. Seeking the help of a mental health professional in your community could also be beneficial for children struggling to cope. Our schools are here to provide you and your child with the necessary support to navigate these challenging times.

Please consider the  following resources that may be helpful

  • Please visit OPH’s Parenting in Ottawa mental health page for information about child and/or youth mental health agencies.
  • If you have a youth in crisis, contact the Youth Services 24/7 Crisis Line (24 hours a day/7 days a week) at 613-260-2360. If outside Ottawa, toll-free, 1-877-377-7775.
  • The AboutKids Mental Health Learning Hub offers parents resources for parents on how to support your child’s mental health and general well-being through physical activity, sleep and nutrition.
  • Anxiety Canada also offers science-based anxiety relief resources, details about anxiety in different age groups, various programs and tools for managing anxiety. Their aim is to help individuals better understand and manage anxiety to improve their quality of life.
  • School Mental Health Ontario offers Parents and Caregivers, Educators and System Leaders resources and tools everyone can use to support each of their respective communities’ mental health needs.

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