Children's Mental Health Week
This week is Children's Mental Health week and it's a good time to remind us all just how important it is to keep the conversation going around mental health and wellbeing. After all, mental health is not just about mental illness... just as we need to take care of our physical health, we need to also take care of our minds no matter how old or young we are.
As well as the usual pressures and challenges that children and young people may face, being a child with a chronic condition such as juvenile arthritis, can carry an additional emotional burden. Living with pain, having an unexpected flare-up, being on medications and treatments and just feeling different to others can all impact on mental health at times. So it is even more important to take good care of it!
We've rounded up a few ideas that may help. If you have ideas and suggestions that may help others with JIA, please do message us or leave a comment on our social media channels as sometimes sharing ideas can be really helpful to others with the same condition.
Using a journal or notebook to write down your thoughts, feelings and even how your arthritis is doing can be helpful. Noting down a couple of things you are grateful for each day - no matter how small - has been linked to psychological benefits such as helping to lower stress levels and improve sleep. You can use paper or a plain notebook but if you wanted a specific journal to help there is one specific to JIA available from SNAC and some children have found the Healthy Coping Colouring book and journal* helpful as it has prompts and ideas for helping with wellbeing.
Obviously during the current pandemic, getting outdoors can be harder than normal but if you can safely spend time outdoors either in your garden (perhaps even doing a spot of gardening to get closer to nature) or going for a walk in the fresh air, both your physical health and mental health can benefit from it.
Baking, art, colouring
Finding a mindful hobby to enjoy where you can really focus on what you are doing for a while can be a great way to relax. Taking time out for yourself with a calming bath or listening to music can also be helpful.
Make a worry box
Some children can find it helpful to write or draw their worries and place them in a worry box. You can spend time making and decorating a box to use. It is important to encourage your child to also talk about their worries but the worry box can be a useful tool alongside talking.
Make a calming glitter jar
These are fun to make and can be helpful for calming the mind. You can find instructions on how to create your own here. The idea being that when you shake the jar the glitter whirls around like all the thoughts and worries in your mind, but as the glitter slows and settles, you can watch it to help your mind calm too. As your mind focusses on the glitter in a jar, it has a calming effect as our focus shifts to our senses rather than the thoughts whirling in our own minds.
Woebot is a free mental health chat bot where you will be chatting not to a real person, but to an interactive AI bot who can help give suggestions and talk through how you are feeling.
Ask for help if you need to
If you need support, reach out to one of the organisations who have expertise in dealing with mental health:
Give us a shout https://giveusashout.org/
* Remember to use easyFundraising or Amazon Smile if you do decide to make a purchase from Amazon as that generates a free donation towards the work of Juvenile Arthritis Research.