Children's Mental Health Week: Kids Discuss What They Think 'Mental Illness' Really Means

11/02/2016 17:26 | Updated 16 February 2016
  • Amy Packham Lifestyle Writer at The Huffington Post UK

An increasing number of children are suffering from mental health problems, but how much do kids really know about these issues?

Four children, aged between nine and 11, were asked what they thought a mental illness was and sadly, not all of them knew what it meant.

mental health

Kids discuss what it means to have a mental health condition

What is a mental health condition?

"Mental health is when someone goes a bit crazy," an 11-year-old said in the video above.

Lucie Russell, director of campaigns at YoungMinds, an organisation supporting children and young people's wellbeing and mental health, said children's misperceptions such as this, have often been influenced by the media.

"The media representation of mental illness is often negative, associating mental health problems with danger and unpredictability," she told HuffPost UK Parents.

"Parents should take the time to talk to their children about mental health, explaining that it’s something we all have, just as we all have physical health.

"Sometimes we feel well, sometimes not so well, and sometimes we all struggle to cope."

How can you help someone with a mental illness?

"Make them feel like they belong to this world as well," one child said.

Russell said parents should talk openly about mental health and where people can go for support, so children know who they can turn to for advice.

"Conversations should include positive mental health, resilience and the importance of seeking help when things are bad," she said.

"It helps to break down stigma and enables young people to look after themselves and each other."

Dr Fiona Pienaar, Place2Be's director of clinical services previously told HuffPost UK Parents that parents should act as an emotional role model.

"It's a mother saying 'I'm feeling upset because my friend is ill, so I'm going to phone them and have a chat' or 'I'm not feeling well so I'm going to make an appointment to go to the doctors'," she said.

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