Funto Owolabi, a psychiatrist, on Friday advised parents to pay more attention to their children’s mental health as well as their physical well-being.

Owolabi, a resident doctor at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Teaching Hospital (LAUTECH) Ogbomoso, gave the advice in an interview with NAN.

He said the mental health of a child is as important as physical health, as it determines how a child behaves and acts throughout the journey of life.

“Just as you can help prevent a child from falling sick, you can help prevent a child from having mental health problems.

“Mental fitness includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It helps to establish how we cope with stress and adversity, handle success, connect to others and make choices.

“Right from childhood, through adolescence and throughout adulthood, mental health is crucial,’’ he said.

According to the doctor, promoting a child’s mental health means helping a child feel secured, loved, to relate well with others and foster his growth at home and at school.

“As parents, we have the responsibility to build the foundation of our children’s mental health to ensure they become mentally-healthy adults.

“This can be achieved by providing a child with a safe and secure home, warmth and love, respect, caring and trusting relationships with family, friends, and adults in the community.

“We must provide them opportunities to talk about experiences and feelings, time to play, learn, and succeed.

“Praise them when they do something right and let them know the consequences for misbehavior.”

The psychiatrist said it was essential for parents to know what signs to look out for in children with mental disorders for early intervention.

He said that anxiety, depression, attention deficits, eating and sleeping disorders, speech and language disorders, suicidal, bullying and aggressiveness were common signs to indicate that a child or adolescent may have mental health disorder.

“Early intervention is the most effective way to address childhood and adolescent mental health concerns,’’ he said.

“However, it is quite unfortunate that many parents are in denial of the mental health problems and difficulties a child may develop.

“They would rather attribute such mental disorders to extraordinary circumstances and take the child to prayer houses”



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