Mighty Blog

Mental Health Awareness Month: how we can help

Children’s Minnesota is honoring Mental Health Awareness Month in May. We know there is a lot going on in the world right now. Because of that, children and teens are facing many new adjustments that may impact their mental health.

Some kids are returning to in-person learning and activities, while others are staying in distance learning. The COVID-19 vaccine is now available for most kids and teens, and we know that can bring a myriad of emotions. Additionally, with the completion of the Derek Chauvin trial, many families of color and those residing locally are still experiencing strong emotions, racial tension and fear.

Whether kids are feeling anxious, stressed, angry, sad, mad – we get it, and we’re here to help!

How can Children’s Minnesota help?

Did you know? We integrate behavioral health professionals into some of our primary care clinics so that children get the care they need when they need it most. During your child’s primary care visit, the doctor will monitor their physical, mental and emotional health. And if you want or need, a behavioral health professional is on-hand for parents or teens to chat with too!

What is Integrated behavioral health (IBH)?

Integrated behavioral health brings medical and behavioral health experts together to collaborate with each other and their patients and families to address medical conditions and related behavioral health factors that affect health and well-being.

Children’s Minnesota’s behavioral health specialists (psychologists, social workers, counselors) work closely with primary care providers (pediatricians, nurse practitioners) to provide coordinated, convenient and cost-effective behavioral health services for children at their primary care clinics.

How can I help my child’s mental health as a parent?

We talked with Ian Halberg, PhD, LP, NCSP, pediatric integrated behavioral health psychologist, and Sarah Quinn, LICSW, behavioral health specialist, about ways parents can try and help their children at home. Here are a few strategies:

Keep an open dialogue

At home it’s important to invite an open dialogue to allow your children to express how they are doing and what they may be worried about. In addition, help kids face their worries. Try talking about what worries them and validate those worries and emotions they are experiencing.

Help them feel safe and calm

Review ways to help your child feel safe and calm.

  • Guided meditation. You can encourage finding and practicing guided meditation through apps on their phone or online. Some examples of apps include:
    • Mind Shift.
    • Head Space.
    • Smiling Mind.
    • Breathe, Think, Do Sesame.
    • Calm.
  • Deep breathing. Deep breathing is a commonly-used practice to help people calm their nerves, worries and anxieties. Deep breathing should include slowing and controlling your breaths. Take notice of your breaths in and out.

Staying active and engaged

It is really important to get children engaged in activities that they enjoy and keep them busy and active. As parents, discuss options with your children about what they would like to do. A few ideas are: go to a park, go to an event, play sports, be active outside riding bikes or going on walks.

Stay connected

There are many ways to stay connected to friends and family these days, and ways to do it safely – virtually and in person. Staying connected to friends and family tends to help improve kids’ moods. Encourage calling friends, FaceTiming grandparents, writing letters, etc.

Healthy habits

Ensuring your child is getting opportunities to eat nutritious meals three times a day and getting adequate sleep at night can help improve your child’s mood as well.

Be brave, be calm, be safe

We recommend encouraging your kids to put it all together by going out and facing their fears or engaging in an activity that they really want to do but are worried. To do this, remind them that as their parent you have a plan for them to be brave, be calm and be safe.

The plan would include, what they can do to feel safe, how to be present, and what to do if they feel worried. It’s also helpful to remember past moments of success and celebrate present successes to help plan for more in the future!

If these strategies don’t seem to work or you’re concerned about changes in your child’s behavior, we encourage you to connect with your primary care physician or schedule an appointment with our behavioral health specialists.

Children’s Minnesota integrated behavioral health locations

Integrated behavioral health is an extremely important part of a child’s well-being and development. That’s why Children’s Minnesota makes it easy for you and your child to meet with our specialists during a primary care visit.

To make an appointment, call your primary clinic or discuss IBH with your primary care provider at your next visit.

Children’s Minnesota – Minneapolis Clinic
Children’s Specialty Center – 3rd floor
2530 Chicago Avenue South, Suite 390
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Children’s Minnesota – St. Paul Clinic
Gardenview Tower — 3rd Floor
347 N. Smith Avenue, Suite 302
Saint Paul, MN 55102

Children’s Minnesota – West St. Paul Clinic
963 S. Robert St.
West St. Paul, MN 55118

Alexandra Rothstein