This project is a requirement of the GOA Abnormal Psychology Course. Using the process of design thinking, a challenge in the world of mental health was identified, interviews and research were undertaken, and a solution prototype was developed. Below you will find information about the identified area of concern and my proposed solution. Please feel free to provide feedback on this prototype, using questions such as “How might we…”, “What if….?”, “I wonder….”, “I like…”, and “I wish.” Keep the comments positive, please. For more information on the process of Design Thinking, click here.
Mental Health and Kids
My interest in the mental wellness of kids began when I started to notice the way that parents and teachers approached mental wellness. In my community, there are a lot of kids who are overly stressed, depressed, anxious, etc. and don’t know how to reach out for help because their parents never taught them how to get help. I especially noticed kids who needed help but weren’t getting it, in the Durham Public School system. Personally, I know many elementary and middle school students who are much too anxious and stressed out for their age, and it’s leading to eating disorders and body dysmorphia.
The kids are not alright. At least according to TIME magazine.
In 2016, TIME magazine debuted the November edition of the magazine with the main article being “The Kids Are Not Alright”. This article addresses the life of Faith-Ann, a teenage girl who struggled with depression and anxiety. She resorted to self-harm as a “treatment” for her condition, until her parents realized something was up and helped her to get help. But the real question; how can we help the kids to be alright? Maybe there’s not an absolute answer, but the best way to help kids is to educate them and to be there to support them through hard times.
Link to the article here.
Common Mental Health Concerns in Kids
Having a child in this day and age can be concerning for parents who worry about their kids’ mental health. More children are having problems with body image and self-worth in this world where we are constantly surrounded by media that tells us to be skinny, pretty, and rich. So how do we reduce the risk of kids having disorders such as anorexia and depression? Educate ourselves of course! As either a parent, sibling or role model, you have a huge influence on a child’s life. By educating ourselves about different disorders, we will be able to more effectively help kids who struggle with these disorders or able to educate the kids about these disorders. By spreading the word that “it’s okay not to be okay” we help to create a more welcoming environment for those who do struggle with mental disorders and think they will be labeled as “abnormal”.
Below is some information about Anorexia and Depression. I have also included PTSD and ADHD as these are also common mental health concerns that parents have for their children.
- Low body weight
- Intense fear of becoming obese, even as individual is losing weight
- Distorted view of one’s body weight, size, or shape
- Refuses to maintain minimum normal body weight
- In females, absence of three menstrual cycles without another cause
- Excessive physical activity in order to promote weight loss
- Denies feelings of hunger
- Preoccupation with food preparation
- Bizarre eating behaviors
- Behavior modification
- Nutritional rehabilitation
- Depressed or irritable mood
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Change in grades, getting into trouble at school, or refusing to go to school
- Change in eating habits
- Feeling angry or irritable
- Mood swings
- Feeling worthless or restless
- Frequent sadness or crying
- Withdrawing from friends and activities
- Loss of energy
- Low self-esteem
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Anti-depressant Drugs
- PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
- Order the events of the trauma incorrectly
- Show signs of PTSD in their play
- Try to fit parts of the trauma into their daily lives
- Fear, worry, sadness, anger, feeling alone and apart from others
- Low self-worth
- Unable to trust others
- Unusual behavior, out of character
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
- Psychological first aid/crisis management
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
- Play therapy
- ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
- Are in constant motion
- Squirm and fidget
- Do not seem to listen
- Have trouble playing quietly
- Often talk excessively
- Interrupt or intrude on others
- Are easily distracted
- Do not finish tasks
- Stimulants (medication)
To educate teachers and parents about common mental illnesses of children in order to reduce the stigma of having a mental illness.
When I interviewed Dr. Lauren Formy-Duval, a Licensed Psychologist with her own private practice here in Durham, NC, it became apparent that many parents did not recognize the troubles their kids faced. Dr. Formy-Duval emphasized the importance in realizing that going into therapy is not as scary or as daunting as one may originally think it is. There is a huge stigma surrounding mental health in this individualistic society and we associate asking for help as being weak. This is wrong and people need to learn that getting help can be empowering and not scary. By teaching children’s role models and educators, we can instill in them the idea that “It’s okay not to be okay.”
“Okay” has such a subjective meaning based on the culture and community you are a part of. If you are not “okay” mentally by standards set by your community, you still want to know that you are accepted. Help me in spreading the idea that “It’s okay not to be okay.”
Take this poll and reflect on your answers
Sign the Pledge to support “It’s okay not to be okay”
May 4th is the United States’ National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day
On Thursday, May 4th at 7 p.m. EDT in Washington, DC, USA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will host the National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day.
Aims of this day:
•Stress the importance of social, emotional, behavioral, and physical health needs of children, youth, and young adults;
•Model effective communication practices between health providers, families, and youth; and to
•Address the needs of youth with co-occurring chronic illnesses and mental and/or substance use disorders. This event will be web-casted live on www.samhsa.gov/children.
Viewers can join the online conversation using #HeroesofHope and pose questions to onstage panelists via Twitter and email during the event.
If you are trying to help someone, take a look at these articles for more information.
Below is a simulation of the life of a 7-year-old. It’s like a choose your own adventure game.
See if you can get a good outcome!
What can we do to help?
💡 Talk to your parents or teachers about how you can integrate these ideas into your community
💡 Share this page
💡 Put up an “It’s okay not to be okay” poster in your community