There are strong links between speech, language and communication skills and mental health. Communication skills are important for our general well-being and mental health. If a child or young person struggles to communicate this can affect their quality of life, and impact on their mood and emotions. Good communication skills are a protective factor against mental health difficulties.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech, language and communication it’s important to seek help early. This can be through contacting Speech and Language Therapy directly or talking with the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator for your child’s school.
There are also ways you can support your child to develop their ability to understand and talk about their emotions. Some top tips include:
- When you read books or watch a TV programme or film talk about how characters may be feeling. For example, ‘how do you think X feels? I think he might be feeling worried’. Draw attention to clues that help you work out how the character is feeling such as their facial expression, what they say or the situation.
- Help your child to put their feelings into words. For example, ‘I wonder if you are feeling a bit excited right now’
- Support your child to extend their use of specific emotion words. For example, ‘were you feeling sad or disappointed?’
- Acknowledge your child’s feelings even if you may not agree. For example, ‘I can see you are feeling angry about this’
The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families have produced a short video called ‘We All Have Mental Health’ to help explain mental health to young people:
The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families also have a range of useful resources for parents, professionals as well as children and young people. The ‘Child in Mind’ series contains podcasts to help parents understand and manage various child and family mental health problems: https://www.annafreud.org/parents-and-carers/child-in-mind/
Here are some helpful resources for parents and schools: