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Date Started: 1st March 2023

Date Ended: 2nd March 2023

Author Name: Sanghamitra Dixit

Qualifications: BA (Hons) Applied Psychology, MA Applied Psychology ( Spl. in Counselling)

Designation: Consultant Psychologist, ACRO Mental Health & Wellness.

Word count: 606 words

Reading time: 8 mins

Reviewed by: Mariyam Mohammed and Ayesha Begum.

Children’s Mental Health in the 21st Century

An appeal to pay more attention to mental health of children

Children are the opportunity to evolve and develop

When one thinks of mental health or seeking help for psychological health and issues, thoughts automatically jump to adults (1). Even when we focus on mental health issues— we assume major ones to be anxiety, depression or substance abuse (2).

Unfortunately, in the scope of generalisations, many overlook a critical group needing mental help just as much as everyone else: the youth. Specifically the children (3,4).

Taking a couple of steps back, one can argue that the roots of major issues often start in one’s childhood (5). The way children are taught to manage and process their emotions, behave, and the kind of routine or structures they follow— the personalities they form in their budding years seem to follow them for the rest of their lives (6,7). As parents, when one realises this— the task of raising them can indeed seem daunting (8).

Parenting can be both fulfilling & daunting

The issue comes from the belief that since children don’t have to worry about things like paying bills or work, they’re not “suffering”. This is an outdated belief (9,10). New parents on the horizon are slowly realising that children have their own minds and ways of responding to the world— and the world does affect them in positive and negative ways (11).

Most childhood development manuals and guides miss out on this important aspect of helping a child grow (12). Not just how they ascend the developmental chart in physical ways, but also how your child understands the world— mentally (13).

How Can Therapy Help?

More than professional help— parents can take care of their children’s mental health right at home(14). A child is dependent on its parents to make sense of this wide and confusing world (15,16). This includes being taken care of physically, yes, and also giving them support as they figure it out (17). Sadly, this basic need often goes unmet. Parents are perhaps too busy with work or worrying about their children to pause and support their children through this growth (18).

Helping children process their big feelings is crucial to mental health development

When kids are in a secure place, they’re able to think clearly, learn new things, and improve their social skills(19). At the same time, parents’ mental health improves as well since they benefit from a stronger relationship and can find joy in seeing their kids thrive (20).

What Can Parents Do?

That being said— it’s not doomsday in the making. Parents often worry about not being good enough for their children and getting overwhelmed by the sheer responsibility of raising a child (21).

What’s important is support, and accepting that one won’t be perfect (22). Perfection mustn't be a goal as each parent is different and unique, and so is their parenting style (23).What a parent can do is maintain an open dialogue with their children (24).

Interacting with children & keeping them engaged is a start

If you’re not talking with your children, how do you know what’s going on in their lives and their minds? Maintaining an open dialogue of respect and concern provides children with a safe space to tell you what is going on (25).

As a parent, you’re in a unique position to offer them guidance based on your experience and support them as kids understand it in their own way (26,27). By being open and honest, parents can help assuage some of their children’s concerns, as opposed to keeping quiet (28).

Bottom line? One of the key ways to pay attention to children’s mental health is to keep an open channel of communication, be authentic and honest and keep alert for any changes in their general routine/personality (29,30).



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  11. iLibrary OECD. Emotional Well-Being in the Digital Age [Internet]. Childhood in the digital age | Educating 21st Century Children : Emotional Well-being in the Digital Age | OECD iLibrary. OECD; [cited 2023Mar1]. Available from:

  12. Morris AS, Grudo J. 10 parenting strategies to reduce your kids' pandemic stress [Internet]. The Conversation. University of Portsmouth; 2022 [cited 2023Mar1]. Available from:

  13. NIMH. Children and mental health: Is this just a stage? [Internet]. National Institute of Mental Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; [cited 2023Mar1]. Available from:

  14. CA. Vermont. Supporting Our Children's Mental Health [Internet]. Prevent Child Abuse Vermont. Prevent Child Abuse Vermont; 2021 [cited 2023Mar1]. Available from:

  15. Westrupp E, Sheen J. Anxiety can look different in children. here's what to look for and some treatments to consider [Internet]. The Conversation. Deakin University; 2023 [cited 2023Mar1]. Available from:

  1. Bor W, Dean AJ, Najman J, Hayatbakhsh R. Are child and adolescent mental health problems increasing in the 21st century? A systematic review. Aust N Z J Psychiatry [Internet]. 2014 ;48(7):606–16. Available from:

  2. Educating 21st century children: Emotional well-being in the digital age [Internet]. UNICEF Global Development Commons. . Available from:

  3. Boyle MH, Duncan L, Georgiades K, Comeau J, Reid GJ, O’Briain W, et al. Tracking children’s mental health in the 21st century: Lessons from the 2014 OCHS. Can J Psychiatry [Internet]. 2019;64(4):232–6. Available from:

  4. Rana M, Tripathi M, Goel M, Mehrotra D, Upadhyaya D, Dass C, et al. Addressing mental health issues in 21st century learners [Internet]. ScooNews. 2023Available from:

  5. Childhood in the digital age. In: Educational Research and Innovation. OECD; 2019.

  6. Samaan RA. The influences of race, ethnicity, and poverty on the mental health of children. J Health Care Poor Underserved [Internet]. 2000 [cited 2023 Jun 1];11(1):100–10. Available from:

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  8. Meltzer H, Doos L, Vostanis P, Ford T, Goodman R. The mental health of children who witness domestic violence. Child Fam Soc Work [Internet]. 2009;14(4):491–501. Available from:

  9. Tarren-Sweeney M. Retrospective and concurrent predictors of the mental health of children in care. Child Youth Serv Rev [Internet]. 2008;30(1):1–25. Available from:

  10. Ford T, John A, Gunnell D. Mental health of children and young people during pandemic. BMJ [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 June 1];372:n614. Available from:

  11. Tarren-Sweeney M. The mental health of children in out-of-home care. Curr Opin Psychiatry [Internet]. 2008 [cited 2023 Jun 1];21(4):345–9. Available from:

  12. Behere AP, Basnet P, Campbell P. Effects of family structure on mental health of children: A preliminary study. Indian J Psychol Med [Internet]. 2017;39(4):457–63. Available from:

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  14. Hysing M, Elgen I, Gillberg C, Lie SA, Lundervold AJ. Chronic physical illness and mental health in children. Results from a large-scale population study. J Child Psychol Psychiatry [Internet]. 2007;48(8):785–92. Available from:

  15. Horwitz SM, Chamberlain P, Landsverk J, Mullican C. Improving the mental health of children in child welfare through the implementation of evidence-based parenting interventions. Adm Policy Ment Health [Internet]. 2010;37(1–2):27–39. Available from:


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