Mental health: Keeping children safe

15 February 2021 | Education

Windhoek • [email protected]
When the going gets tough, adults have found various ways to lighten the load – from talking it out
with a partner or friend or relaxing in the bath with a good book or simply going to bed earlier and
But are we thinking of the mental health of our children?
Ayesha Wentworth, clinical phycologist and Deputy Director of Diagnostic and Advisory Services at
the Ministry of Education, says it is vital to safeguard our children, especially with current
restrictions. “Children are social beings and we took that away from them. We closed schools and
there’s no interaction with friends. It obviously has an effect on them,” she says.
According to Wentworth, talking about feelings and in fact about mental health, is still very much in
its in its infancy in Namibia, which leads to even bigger problems and challenges.
Adults often think children don’t deal with or have stress or challenges, but in that way, they are just
like adults. “They might even be more susceptible as they do not have the coping mechanisms that
adults have learned over the years. This is still a very much an overlooked issue in Namibia and it can
have serious consequences,” she says, adding that we have to just look at the number of young
children, teenagers and young adults robbing themselves of a future because they see no way out.
Some of them turn to drugs, alcohol or even suicide
Her advice to parents is that it is essential to engage with your child. “Have them speak about their
feelings, free from judgement and make them feel safe within their family. Children can also show
adults how they feel through play and parents should look closely to what their child is not saying
but rather showing.”
Wentworth concludes by saying that parents should keep youngsters entertained, challenged and
give them the opportunity to be themselves. At the same time, just like adults, make sure if possible
they also still get enough fresh air and don’t let them overindulge. “Staying positive and active all
contribute to keeping a child happy, healthy and mentally resilient.”

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