Psychologist Guy Winch's message on the importance of prioritizing emotional health is a great way to wrap up Mental Health Awareness month. We all understand the importance of taking care of our bodies, seeing the doctor for regular check-ups, and quickly seeking proper treatment for wounds or illness. However, we all too often fail to recognize or seek proper and timely treatment for emotional wounds. Loneliness, anxiety, failure, depression, rejection, and loss all take an emotional and physical toll. No one expects you to "shake off" a broken arm, but we often expect others and ourselves to "shake off" these emotional wounds. Guy Winch gives practical advice and examples of ways to improve our awareness and treatment of these issues with what he terms "emotional first aid."
This article by Vicki Hoefle is a great reminder to parents of the importance of offering children our encouragement rather than our praise. Praising kids for being "smart" (or "fast" or "strong" or "beautiful") makes them more likely to link that trait with their identity - their sense of self. This becomes problematic if they don't bring home the A, don't win the game, etc. Since their identity is linked to those traits, children who have a less than perfect performance often feel their whole identity called into question ("I guess I'm not smart after all."). Researchers have found that children praised for their performance or for specific traits are often less likely to pursue a more challenging task and are more inclined to cheat. On the other hand, children who are encouraged, or praised for their effort, learn important problem-solving skills and tie their performance not to being smart vs. dumb, or a winner vs. a loser, but rather to the amount of effort they put in -- something which (unlike IQ or natural talent) is within their control. Breaking the habit of praising our smart, fast, handsome children for these traits can be difficult, but it is important for parents to model for their children that good compassionate habits are worth the effort.
Read Vicki Hoefle's full article on PBS.org here.
May is recognized as National Mental Health Awareness Month. During the second week of May we focus on raising awareness and support for mental health in children, adolescents and young adults. Did you know that 50% of all lifetime cases of mental health conditions begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24? The following video produced by NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) highlights early warning signs and features three brave and eloquent young people speaking out mental health.
May is the month in which we advocate as a community to promote mental health awareness and treatment. Help spread the word to end stigma and encourage those we know and love to seek the help they need for their own brighter tomorrows.
About the Author
Clinical psychologist Dr. Kristy Novinski contributes insights, book and film reviews, discussions of pop culture, and exploration of news and research in the field of psychology.