Safeguarding our children’s mental health

14 September 2020 | Opinion

Windhoek • Ayesha Wentworth

Life is tough, no doubt about it. Just assess your own life and all the things that are thrown at you on a daily basis, not even mentioning what we are all going through in 2020.
A collective mental health challenge for Namibia.
As adults we have coping mechanisms to deal with our stress, anxiety and general issues that we face. Some of these are healthier than others. For example, turning to stimulants of any kind only offers short term relief and often creates longer term problems.
Talking about feelings and about mental health is still very much in its infancy in our country. Which leads to even bigger problems and challenges. Now imagine you are a child.
Our children are often a mirror of ourselves and whatever issues, challenges and anxieties that we are going through or stressors also impact children. Adults often think children don’t deal or have stress or challenges, but in that way, they are just like us. Maybe even more susceptible as they do not have the coping mechanisms that we have learned over the years.
This is still a very much overlooked issue in Namibia and it can have serious consequences. Just look at the number of young children, teenagers and young adults robbing themselves of a future because they see no way out. Turning to drugs, alcohol or even suicide as is reported in the media with alarming frequency.
How do we care, nurture and look out for our children? Not just our own kids, but as a community and as stakeholders in all Namibian children’s lives? Especially during the uncertainty concerning Covid-19.

Children no longer have their routine, they are away from their school friends, activities and structure. This can wreak havoc on their sense of well-being and nothing really makes sense any more. Just imagine what small children must be thinking now everyone is forced to wear masks, or that they are no longer allowed to hug, play in close proximity to others, or do a million other things that used to be normal. It is enough to drive adults to the edge, let alone children.
So, how do we help children navigate these strange and unusual times?
There’s no easy remedy, no one size fits all. All children are different and react differently to situations and to possible solutions presented to them. One thing not to do, is tell them to ‘suck it up’ or just get ‘over it’ or ‘ignore it’, whatever ‘it’ may be.
Engage with the children. Have them speak about their feelings, free from judgement and make them feel safe within their family, whichever form the family-unit may take. Help them cope with the uncertainty of the upcoming school year by providing some structure to their everyday lives.
Establish a daily routine. If it is possible to arrange play dates or interactions with their friends, try to make it happen whilst observing social-distancing rules and protocols.
Just as adults like to vent their feelings and emotions, children also need an escape valve. Give them the opportunity to do so and in their own way.
Give them time to open up, let them talk as much or as little as they want. Sometimes giving them a creative outlet can be the way of getting their feelings out into the open. Give them the sense that their ideas, thoughts and emotions matter and are taken seriously. It helps develop their self-worth and self-esteem. Both of which are essential to having them cope with challenges and strengthens their mental health and resilience.
Keep them 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.
* Ayesha Wentworth is a clinical psychologist in the ministry of education.

Similar News


Card fraud on the increase

2 days ago - 17 September 2020 | Opinion

Windhoek • Riaan ViljoenDuring the lockdown, a whole new generation of users discovered the joys and convenience of online shopping.Worldwide, online debit or credit card...

Be our guest and be your own host

4 days ago - 15 September 2020 | Opinion

Windhoek • Jurgen IsaacsWe sit behind our computer, tablets and other devices all day. Creating documents, doing projects, sending out quotes and all matter of...

Managing your debt the easy way

1 week ago - 11 September 2020 | Opinion

Windhoek • Loide DavidIn August, the Bank of Namibia (BoN) cut its benchmark interest rate by another 25 basis points (BPS), a standard unit of...

No going back to old way of schooling

1 week ago - 11 September 2020 | Opinion

Windhoek • Prateek KhareWith the reopening of schools around the country, there are many questions in the minds of every stakeholder of the education sector,...

Is your testament up to date?

1 week ago - 10 September 2020 | Opinion

Windhoek • Paulina ElifasCrises have one thing in common: crucial decisions matter. One lesson we continue to learn as we fight Covid-19, is the significance...

An argument for cannabis

2 weeks ago - 03 September 2020 | Opinion

Windhoek • Angela Prusa2020 is slowly coming to an end. As I reflect on the Cannabis Journey in Namibia, I want to share the following:...

To truly develop Namibia

2 weeks ago - 31 August 2020 | Opinion

Windhoek • Llewellyn le HanéWe talk a good game as Namibians, but we are prone to not embracing real change. A small shift here, a...

When the going gets tough…

3 weeks ago - 27 August 2020 | Opinion

Windhoek • Sidney HansteinTeam Namibia member Outsourcing Solutions, a locally owned company that specialises in tailoring world-class human resource services to the needs of Namibian...

Be the CEO of your finances

3 weeks ago - 27 August 2020 | Opinion

Windhoek • Ester KaliAs we draw to an end of women’s month, allow us to reflect the importance of women when it comes to her...

Entrepreneurs should not travel alone

4 weeks ago - 20 August 2020 | Opinion

Windhoek • Melkies AusikuThere’s an African saying: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.Although bit of...

Latest News

Qatar also heading back to...

2 days ago - 17 September 2020 | Transport

Come 15 October, Qatar Airways will be flying to Windhoek three times a week again.The announcement came earlier today, and follows the decision by Eurowings...

Sen Pang leads UN Namibia

2 days ago - 17 September 2020 | People

Sen Pang, the newly appointed United Nations Resident Coordinator in Namibia, was received at State House, where he handed over his Letter of Credence and...

Informal market coming for Havana

2 days ago - 17 September 2020 | Infrastructure

Windhoek mayor Fransina Kahungu said the city received a pledge of N$5 million from the ministry of industrialisation, trade and SME development to help build...

Eurowings makes a Namibian return

2 days ago - 17 September 2020 | Transport

Eurowings will resume their Frankfurt-Windhoek route this weekend, with the first flight landing at the Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) on Sunday.In a media statement,...

Another Air Namibia resignation

2 days ago - 17 September 2020 | Business

The national airline’s chief financial officer Werner Schuckmann has tendered his resignation with effect 30 September 2020.The process to recruit a substantive chief financial officer...

Card fraud on the increase

2 days ago - 17 September 2020 | Opinion

Windhoek • Riaan ViljoenDuring the lockdown, a whole new generation of users discovered the joys and convenience of online shopping.Worldwide, online debit or credit card...

Masking Namibia

2 days ago - 17 September 2020 | Social Issues

Local social impact agency, Arba Stature, in partnership with Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL) donated 2253 face masks to 25 schools through its #CoverNamibia campaign.Designed to...

GIPF says investments safe

2 days ago - 17 September 2020 | Economics

The Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) said that it is aware of the de-registration of the Baobab Capital (Pty) Ltd (the fund manager) and Baobab...

International accolade for EIF

3 days ago - 16 September 2020 | Environment

The Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF) received a certificate of merit for outstanding Sustainable Project Financing at the Karlsruhe Sustainable Finance Awards, recognising its...

Load More