FIREFLY shares expert tips supporting child and youth mental health
Reeti Meenakshi Rohilla - Staff Writer
FIREFLY has shared expert tips to support child and youth mental health to boost wellbeing, especially during this winter lockdown. FIREFLY CEO, Karen Ingebrigtson said, “It’s okay to not be okay right now and it’s okay to reach out for help.”
Ingebrigtson said, “The latest extensions of the lockdown are obviously to protect the health and wellbeing of the people.” However, she added, “I think it adds an extra burden for families because of the weariness around managing with COVID, which is why it is important to be looking at some of these ideas to help us manage our winters.” Ingebrigtson added that she feels this especially adds an extra burden on the younger people, for whom, one of the important parts of their lives is friends.
Having left the holidays behind us and with the province in lockdown again, Ingebrigtson shared that this will be a difficult time for many families in our community. She added in a media release by FIREFLY, “We are sharing these tips to help you through, but if you are a parent or a caregiver and feel that your child needs more mental health support, reach out for help by calling or emailing our Centralized Intake – 1-833-696-5437 or [email protected].”
FIREFLY is a multi-service, non-profit organization providing a wide range of services for children, youth and families in communities across Northwestern Ontario. FIREFLY shared the following tips to support mental health of children and youth:
1. Focus on gratitude- Take a few minutes to think of the things you are grateful for and encourage children to do the same. That is not to take away from how challenging things have been over this last year, but rather, it’s an opportunity to recognize that some good things have been happening too.
2. Embrace winter- Having a positive mindset about winter may encourage you and your family to think of new ways to get outside more.
3. Collaborate with kids on plans- Take time to collaborate with your children and family on activities to stay busy. If your teen is feeling unmotivated to go out, try to really understand what’s behind their feelings. Ask if there is anything new that they are interested in trying. It gives you a chance to help them shift how they may be feeling.
4. Stay connected- Talk to children and teens and ask what methods of connecting with friends is best for them. Is there a virtual program they could do together? Depending on your child’s interests, it could be something like a shared online yoga or dance program.
5. Stay active- Going out, even on cloudy days, will give you a dose of much-needed natural light. FIREFLY has some fun ideas for activities to get your kids moving on the resource section of our website: http://www.fireflynw.ca/resources-and-links
6. Keep healthy habits and routines- Prioritize the healthy habits you normally have, such as getting enough sleep, eating healthily, and exercising regularly. Routines – and knowing what to expect in the day – can be especially helpful to children with mental health issues.
7. Reach out for help- If you are not sure what your child is experiencing is normal or if they need help, reach out for help by calling our Centralized Intake. Help is available from child and mental health experts who can talk to your child or you, or both.
Ingebrigtson said that families are being creative in finding ways to help support their children through this time. However, she is encouraging people who may be feeling especially stressed to reach out.