How do I promote my child’s mental health?

First and foremost, you need to take care of your own mental health, since it impacts that of your child. Next, you should focus on your child’s needs according to his age. For example, during your baby’s first few months of life, he forms his attachment to you and builds his trust in you. It’s therefore important to quickly respond to his needs (to be comforted, fed, changed, etc.). It’s also essential, for healthy brain development, to give him affection, exchange smiles and play with him. As he grows, you can teach him to recognise his emotions, to talk about what he’s feeling, to develop relationships with others and to ask for help. In order to help him develop healthy self-esteem, encourage his efforts, praise him on his achievements and show interest in what he does. And to make him feel safe, it’s important to set limits. But beware: this is not a magic recipe. Mental illnesses are complex and can appear regardless of how you raise and guide your child.

When a mother suffers from anorexia or bulimia, is she or her child at risk?

Eating disorders increases the risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension, miscarriage, premature delivery and birth defects. Furthermore, babies born to anorexic or bulimic mothers risk suffering from malnutrition and low birth weights, which expose them to various health issues, developmental delays and behavioural problems. Children of anorexic or bulimic moms often have a lower threshold for stress tolerance. They are also at risk for suffering from an eating disorder later on, or other mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.

Can young children have mental health problems?

Up to 20 per cent of children and adolescents live with a mental disorder, which may begin in early childhood. That’s a lot, but it’s important to note that Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (commonly known as ADD or ADHD) and behavioural disorders also fall into this category. Among other mental health problems that may affect children aged five and under are anxiety disorders, symptoms of depression and attachment disorder. What are the signs to look out for? Generally speaking, if the behaviour is overwhelming and persistent, this may indicate that something is wrong. If you find yourself overwhelmed by your child’s emotions or behaviour, it’s best to seek professional help.