Start by Breaking Stigmas at Home
By Susana Marquez, Mommy In Los Angeles Wellness Contributor and Founder, Me, Myself n Mommy
October 10 is World Mental Health Day.
The topic of mental health continues to be a stigma in the Latino community as well as in our society in general. We continue to keep things a secret, we fear being shamed and feelings of guilt emerge when a mental illness is disclosed or when we seek therapeutic services.
As mothers, we can break these stigmas by teaching our children the importance of taking care of their mental health. Our children can learn to identify and verbalize their emotions and thoughts accurately and learn to ask for help when they need it. Here are some important ways we can teach our children to take better care of their mental health everyday:
Allow them to express their emotions and thoughts freely. Do not place restrictions or censor them even if they’re expressing themselves by way of a tantrum.
Encourage them to use “I” statements, for example, “I feel sad because no one wanted to play with me.”
As mothers, role model taking care of your mental health by making sure you place priorities and set limits where needed.
Talk with your child regularly about how powerful and important our brain is and how connected our thoughts and feelings are. Discuss healthy ways of taking care of our mental health, for example, practicing yoga and meditation.
Do not be afraid of having conversations regarding mental health. Break stigmas by being open about what you do to disconnect from your busy day. Teach your children how you ground yourself. Just like we talk about daily nutrition, our doctor’s appointments & check ups, we need to show our children that caring for our mental health and seeking help is important. If you attend therapy, take them with you to a session, normalize it and show them that you are not ashamed of seeking help.
We have a lot of responsibilities as mothers to raise respectful, caring, empathic children. Let’s not forget how important it is to teach our children that their emotions, thoughts and mental health are a priority. World Mental Health should not be limited to one day of recognition. We need to educate and raise awareness everyday. As mothers we can start changing the way mental health is viewed by the way we speak about it in our homes to the future generation.