Your Healthy Family: Checking your kids mental health during bac - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Your Healthy Family: Checking your kids mental health during back to school time

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In today's Your Healthy Family, we here at News5 remain committed to keeping the conversation going around reducing the stigma around mental health to help reduce teen suicides in our community. With many kids either heading back to school very soon, or already back at it we want to help parents make sure their kids are in a healthy state of mind.

Dr. Mark Mayfield, a licensed professional counselor, nationally certified counselor, and the President and CEO of Mayfield Counseling Centers in Colorado Springs says a good starting place is to recognize this may be one of the most important weekends to make sure you spend quality time with your kids, and do it on their level.

“I think a lot of times parents are so busy that they think if I just have a minute and we talk about it and I ask things like is your brain together?, are you good?, let's go, you'll be fine, and we don’t really slow down and pick upon the body language, or pick up on emoting feelings that are in the room like the anxiety the fidgeting, and your kids are going to tell you these things whether they verbalize it or not.”

Learning the non-verbal signals your child puts off can be key to knowing where they are emotionally no matter what they are telling you says Dr. Mayfield.

“I have worked with adolescents where i say ‘what were you thinking’ and they say ‘I have no idea’ and that's legit. The best way to go about it, is asking the questions of how are you feeling, or what are you feeling? Then you can help them kind of tease out those those feelings because you've got the words as a parent, to go with the feelings. Feelings are all your teenager has right now in a lot of ways. If you're a student of your child in the sense of the body language, the facial features observing if they are being more reclusive than normal, do they want to hang with their friends more than be at home, there are different things that you can you can pick up on that can tell you how your child is doing. If you haven’t been a student of your child until this now, this is the perfect time to start.”

Spending time with your kid on their level, means putting in the time with them. Dr. Mayfield says these don’t need to be elaborate outings. Just focus on the simple things.

“Go for a walk, go for a hike, hang out at the dinner table, play video games and ask questions. For a lot of guys sitting next to each other just playing video games and talking and is much better than the serious face to face talk. Really pay attention to what you're picking up on, and just don't breeze by it as ‘it's just another day, or another school year starting and good luck,’ I think that can get us into trouble.”

I will be focusing on mental health advice on for parents and teens for the next couple of weeks, a few mornings a week on News5 Today, on Your Healthy Family, and here online to keep the conversation going and reduce the stigma around mental health as we transition back into the routine of school life.

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