During this Mental Health Awareness Month, we're highlighting challenges brought on children. Not only by the pandemic, but also by racial tension and the police killings of Black and Latino adults and children.
“They're seeing this and they're thinking, ‘that could be me,’ so we have to be mindful of talking to our kids about safety, about how they're feeling emotionally, emotional safety, physical safety. Because they're not able to avoid these, you know, the scenes. And in these visuals and these conversations, they're having them, so they need to be having them with us, I think, before they're having with their peer groups,” said Dr. Alfiee M. Breland-Noble, a Sound It Out mental health expert.
Often times, caregivers struggle with where to begin with talking to children about their feelings. It can be especially difficult with middle school aged kids.
That's the focus of a new campaign called Sound It Out.
“The lyrics give the parents insight, but the lyrics also are a reflection back to the young people, of what people their age group are experiencing, so you don't necessarily have to explain everything that you're feeling. Just say, listen to the song, look at this lyric. This is how I’m feeling right here,” said Breland-Noble.
The Sound It Out campaign includes music based on conversations with students. The hope is the songs will connect with kids and caregivers at a critical time.
“We know that half of all mental illnesses are going to show up in young people before the age of 14, so right when they are emerging from middle school going to high school,” said Breland-Noble. “That's when things are showing up, and so we want to make sure that we're catching it early enough that we can equip young people with tools and strategies to be able to manage their mental health and first among those is really being able to have a conversation about it.”
Research also suggests mental health challenges start to arise in children as they begin puberty. And the number of boys and girls experiencing early puberty as young as 8 and 9 years old is also higher.
You can find the music and additional resources to have conversations around mental health at SoundItOutTogether.org.