By Uchechukwu Nnaike
World Mental Health Day 2020 was celebrated on Saturday, October 10 and to mark the day, Greensprings School’s Head of Counselling Services, Ms Chinelo Nkennor has appealed to parents to watch out for red signals by engaging and listening more to their children.
She disclosed that mental health has already become a serious issue in the society before the lockdown and staying at home for six months made things worse.
“Because of the situation we found ourselves in 2020, we have been forced to stay back at home for several months. While many adults understand the situation and maintain a healthy mental health condition, that can’t be said of children because of their vulnerability. So to ensure children’s mental health doesn’t suffer now that schools have reopened and life is gradually getting back to normal, parents need to allow children to express themselves more.
“By engaging children in open and honest discussions, parents can quickly identify red flags that will serve as pointers to know if their children are not in the right state of mind, hence giving them the opportunity to probe further and determine the root cause of their situation,” she advised.
Also, Nkennor reiterated the importance of parents being empathetic, saying that parents should not be quick to judge or condemn their children. “Parents should learn to listen to their children with empathy. When their children speak to them about the challenges they are experiencing, parents shouldn’t shut them down or judge them. Instead, they should put themselves in the shoes of the children and work together to resolve any issue as unresolved issues may likely affect their mental health.”
Nkennor also stated that children should be allowed to take on more responsibilities as long as they are age appropriate. They should also be assigned tasks and house chores, while ensuring all safety measures are in place. She revealed that doing these would help them build soft skills, which would help them to cope during challenging times.