As the school year winds down, the much-anticipated summer break is on the horizon. I remember as a child the excitement of summer break, a time to play outside all day and come home when it got dark. Summer break can be a great time for children to recharge and connect with friends and family, as well as gain new experiences through summer camps, vacations, and other activities. Summer break also brings to the forefront disparities that exist for children, as well as lead to increased feelings of isolation and loneliness for those children who appreciate the structure, routine, and socialization that school can bring.
June 1st marks Stand for Children Day, a day meant to raise awareness about issues our youth face. As I was preparing to write this, it became apparent if I wrote about all the issues our youth face today, that I would need more than just a blog post.
With that said, one area I am passionate about (working in our care management department), are the mental health issues facing our youth today, and with summer approaching, one thing that can be overlooked is supporting children’s mental health during the summer months.
As the mom of a seven-year-old, I can tell you since my son started grade school, the summer can be stressful for parents and kids. I started to do some digging about how to support his mental health during the summer and found some helpful tips (some I have tried, while others are new to me), as well as helpful resources:
- Maintain a routine: This can help decrease stress and anxiety
- Look for summer camps: These are great for children to learn new things and be around other kids! They can be expensive, but some camps have scholarships and financial aid available, and some places offer free camps. Some resources to look at:
- Get outside: This can boost your mood, lower stress, and help with focus and attention. Living in Colorado, we are surrounded by so many beautiful parks and places to visit. Check out free outdoor activities during the summer! Here is a link to free things to do this summer.
- Get active and eat healthy: Exercise and eating healthy are important for overall health, and can help boost mood, decrease stress and anxiety. Take a peek at Hunger Free Colorado for additional resources if you or someone you know is struggling to afford food.
- Ask your children open-ended questions about how they are feeling: This may help you better understand how to support your child.
- Pay attention to sudden changes in your child’s behavior: If you notice sudden changes, connect with your child’s pediatrician and/or look for a mental health provider to support your child. If you are a Colorado Access member (if you have Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid program) or Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+)) and need help finding a provider, give our care coordinator line a call at 866-833-5717.
- Make sure to create some “downtime” and don’t overcommit: This one can be hard for me, but I know how important it is. Our bodies do need time to relax and unwind, and it is OK to say no.
- Maintain interaction with other kids: This can help decrease the feeling of isolation and loneliness, whether it is interactions thru activities like camps, play dates, sports etc.
Children’s mental health is important year-round, and it is important to remember that even during our “summer break.” My hope is you can use this to support your child’s mental health, or share it with someone you know who has children. As Zig Ziglar said “Our children are our only hope for the future, but we are their only hope for their present and future.”
Mental health is important. If you are having a crisis, experiencing symptoms, such as active suicidal thoughts or planning self-harm, and want help now, contact Colorado Crisis Services immediately. Call 844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255 to be connected 24 hours a day, seven days a week to a trained professional for free, immediate, and confidential help.