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Five mental health myths in kids

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Posted at 3:03 PM, May 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-17 17:03:22-04

From virtual learning to being separated from friends and family, the pandemic has been rough on many children.

"We all have mental health. It affects how we think. How we feel and how we behave," said Jody Baumstein, Licensed Therapist of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Baumstein says the first myth about mental health is that it's a mental illness.

"Just like with our physical health, our mental health changes all the time and we all have it. We need to do things regularly and proactively to take care of our mental health."

She says it's also not true that kids can't have mental health challenges. Baumstein says to teach children about feelings, that it's normal to have them and help them label those feelings, so they know how to express themselves. Finally, help them learn to manage or cope with those feelings.

Another myth, bad parenting is the cause of those challenges.

"We really want to shift the conversation away from placing blame on the child or the parent and instead redirect to getting proper assessment and treatment," said Baumstein.

She says it's another myth that doctors are quick to diagnose a problem and medicated. It's always a parent's choice to accept a medical recommendation or not.

The final myth is that talking about mental health puts ideas into a child's mind.

"There's no research to support this and, in fact, having open and honest conversations about this stuff is much more likely to help a child feel safe."

Baumstein says it's important to teach coping skills when everyone is calm, not in the heat of the moment and that those skills are practiced regularly.