Our Children’s Mental (M-eart) Health…

A child’s mental health is just as important as their physical health and deserves the same quality of support. Kate Middleton

Meditation: This month of May is mental health month. It has been filled for families and children with homecoming events and graduations. Exciting and very stressful. My teenage girls have felt overwhelmed and exhausted, even confused. Last night, after I let them first share their feelings of imbalance and stress, I wondered how to support their “mental health” in these days. (I suggest to playfully rename mental health as “M-EART health” = “mind and heart health” as the term “mental” is usually used equivalent with “illness” or even worse with “insanity”.) The heart on the other hand symbolizes our emotions. Heart and mind are normal parts of all of us. And our hearts and minds can become stressed. Stress will take a toll on our hearts and minds and eventually make us sick, if we don’t provide preventative care. I have learned that one of the best mental health support for myself and for my teenagers is to talk with somebody about what is going on in our hearts and in our minds. The second most important response to stress is getting enough sleep. And because teenagers usually go to bed later than they should, they do not get enough sleep for sure. Recently, after I let my girls process their feelings, I assessed my girls’ “m-eart health”. I then decided to let them sleep in, two hours longer than usual. As mother I have never done this before. But as counselor I knew for my teenagers to cope with all the stressors coming their way, sleep – besides expressing their emotions- will be the best foundation no matter what will be thrown at them. Letting their brain rest, while having an available adult for concrete support will give our teenagers the strength to make it through the challenges of this stressful month. On the letter of excuse for school I listed “health related reasons”. I did not want to say “mental health related reasons”, as that would raise red flags… It is sad that our society has not accepted our mental health, our children’s “m-eart health”, to deserve just the same care as our bodies do.

Prayer: God, you deeply care about our body, mind and emotions. You want our hearts and minds to be at peace. Our society focuses on caring for our bodies. However, it is often ignoring and dismissing the health of our mind and of our emotions. Help us teach the next generation that the health of our emotions and our minds are just as important as our bodies. You want our whole personhood to receive daily care. You want us to receive abundant support and peace that surpasses what the world gives us. And we are grateful. Amen

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27