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TheStreet Open House

Circle Of Trust Crucial To Help Kids Deal With Mental Health Struggles Like Anxiety, Stress, Depression And Bullying At School

Simple tips for parents and kids to connect

TORONTO, Nov. 15, 2012 /CNW/ -The proverb that "it takes a village to raise a child" may not be far from the truth when helping kids struggling with their mental health. As a parent, teacher or friend of a young person dealing with anxiety, stress, depression, bullying, or other form of mental health challenges, one of the most important things you can do to support them is connect them with others, helping them to build a circle of trust.

"At Kids Help Phone, kids often turn to us because they need help, but they don't want to worry their parents," said Sharon Wood, president & CEO, Kids Help Phone, and a mother to two teenagers. "As a parent, we may feel that our kids should confide in us about everything. But in reminding them that support can come from a variety of sources including: family, friends, neighbours, and organizations like Kids Help Phone, we are helping our children become independent and resourceful."

According to the 2012 RBC Children's Mental Health poll, 63 per cent of parents would like to think that their child would approach them about mental health issues but according to a companion poll of youth who visited the Kids Help Phone website, children are more inclined to confide in their friends (50%), rather than a mother (30 per cent), a health professional (22 per cent) or a father (10 per cent).

"Many parents and children don't discuss mental health concerns," said Dr. Ian Manion, psychologist, executive director of the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health. "Kids who suffer in silence can obsess over simple issues that can quickly become unmanageable. Parents who have regular conversations with their children about feelings and behaviour are more likely to identify potential concerns early."

The RBC poll found that one significant barrier to early intervention, diagnosis and treatment of a child's mental health issue may be perceived stigma. An overwhelming majority of parents agree that children with a mental health condition are stigmatized among their peers (84 per cent) or among adults (76 per cent).

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