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Healthy Living: Advice to improve children’s mental health

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 8:26 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As students transition back to being home for the summer, their mental health and well-being are just as important, now more than ever.

Renee Rafferty, a regional director of behavioral health at Providence Hospital, offered helpful tips for parents to keep conversations going.

First, she said is recognizing that as people recover, they’re going to experience all kinds of intense emotion.

“That may mean a kid doesn’t talk as much or shuts down,” Rafferty said. They may be having great grades, but not spending time with their family.”

Rafferty said listening and asking questions is one of the ways to notice different signs. For the most part, parents know their children well, but sometimes it’s hard for children to open up to their parents. Rafferty added that it takes more than one time to see results.

“You want to be paying attention and just asking questions, even if your child looks like they’re doing okay. You want to keep checking in regularly and opening up the dialogue around your own struggles, that you know as a family we can work on this together,” Rafferty said. “It’s not always easy for me as a parent, these are some of the things I like to do”

If parents are uncertain about how to have those conversations, there are places like the Work2BeWell website that have resources and videos for parents, children and even teens to use.

“That dialogue is very helpful to start getting the information and talking about it,” Rafferty said. Then if you start to feel like there is a need for something more, talking with your primary care provider is an excellent strategy.”

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