Understanding and supporting children’s mental health

Some people and organisations use the term ‘mental health’ to mean mental illness. But mental health is something everyone has, including babies and young children. A child’s mental health can change, depending on what’s going on in their life, and is shaped by many different things.

What is child mental health?

Meet Emm. In this animation, Emm shares some key things every adult should know about children’s mental health and ways we can nurture it.

We’ve developed this collection of resources to share some of the most important things we know about children’s mental health – from science and research, the lived experience of families like yours, and the learnings of health professionals and practitioners who support children and families.

While these resources refer to ‘parents’, the information is relevant for other family members, educators, health professionals and any adult who wants to enhance children’s wellbeing.

These resources will be helpful if you:

  • wonder what mental health ‘looks like’ in children
  • thought infants and children didn’t have mental health
  • want to know more about what shapes a child’s mental health
  • are curious about children’s emotions and behaviours
  • are unsure whether a child’s reactions or behaviours are ‘normal’ for their age and experiences, or might be signs of mental health difficulties
  • want to know what you can do to nurture positive mental health in your child
  • want to know how you can support a child who’s dealing with challenges or whose family or community is facing tough times.

Knowing what positive mental health looks like, and how to tell if a child might need some extra support, helps us nurture and protect children’s mental health when they’re young. It also sets the foundation for good health and wellbeing throughout the child’s life.

Select from the following resources:

  • Five ways to support your children’s mental health

    Whether life is going well right now, or your child or family is navigating tough times, there are five key things you can do to support your children’s mental health.

    This resource introduces the ‘PERCS’ for families – the five areas of family life you can focus on to help nurture and protect your child’s mental health and overall wellbeing.

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