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‘Families Under Pressure’

Think Mental Health’s ‘Families Under Pressure’ public education campaign aims to contributing to improving overall child mental health and wellbeing.

The importance of being able to express emotion and the role of parents and caregivers

The way we interpret and respond to our feelings has a major impact on our behaviour, choices, and our mental health and wellbeing. Emotional development starts from birth and includes the ability to:

  • identify and understand one’s own feelings;
  • accurately read and comprehend emotional states in others;
  • manage strong emotions and their expression in a constructive manner;
  • regulate one’s own behaviour;
  • develop empathy for others; and
  • establish and sustain relationships.

Good mental health is built early in life - early experiences shape the architecture of a young persons’ developing brain.(2) These experiences include children’s relationships with parents, caregivers, relatives, teachers, and peers which play a critical role in shaping social, emotional, and cognitive development.(2) These figures, both through words and behaviour, including values and beliefs, influence children regarding appropriate and inappropriate ways of expressing emotions.(3) Prevention of potential emotional and behavioural difficulties and promotion of the ability to effectively process, regulate and express emotion in the early years is important, and supports the ability for children to develop capacity for learning, managing everyday social interactions and relating to others as they grow; which ultimately protects their mental health and wellbeing.(4)

Impact on help seeking

Young people are less likely to seek help for mental health issues or conditions if they lack knowledge about mental health.(5,6) However, young people are more inclined to seek help for mental health issues or conditions if they have some knowledge about mental health issues; sources of help; can express their feelings; and have established and trusted relationships with potential help providers.(5,6)

In childhood, parental perception of problems is the starting point for referral to professional services. Young people may seek help through talking to their family and friends, with family being more important for younger adolescents, and friends and partners becoming more influential as they age.(5) Family and friends are the most common sources of help for adolescents, however as they grow older this decreases; the capacity for self-referral develops over adolescence.(5,7)

About the campaign

The United Kingdom’s King’s College London, the NHS South London And Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, and Maudsley Charity have been undertaking extensive research about the mental health and wellbeing of children and the impact of parenting and have developed a suite of materials to support parents, known as ‘Families Under Pressure’. The program includes a suite of evidence informed videos that were formulated by researchers and NHS mental health experts, which are backed by science and proven to work with families. The material owners of this work have kindly provided permission for the Mental Health Commission to adapt and implement these resources across Western Australia.

Campaign objectives (short and long term)

  1. Increase parent’s confidence in communicating with their child about emotions.
  2. Increase parent’s confidence in helping their child identify and describe emotions.
  3. Increase parental mental health literacy.
  4. Increase child mental health literacy by increasing their skills to feel more confident in expressing their emotions.
  5. Increase help seeking by adolescents.

Target audience

Western Australia parents of children 12 years and under.

Resources

Visit our tips for parents page to view all 12 videos.

Last updated: December 2020

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