My response to Children’s Mental Health Week

Last week was Children’s Mental Health Week in Ontario. Did you know? The intention was for there to be a flurry of “awareness” about the fact that our kids’ mental health needs to be a priority.

True. It does.  Attention, focus, anxiety, depression, aggression, emotional outbursts… too many kids are struggling.

But here’s the thing.  We don’t need more awareness, we need strategies. And I have 5 of them down below for you….

But first, here are some startling statistics about children from the CMHA:

    • A whopping 70% of the 1 in 5 Canadians who struggle with mental health issues say their struggles started in childhood (I expect it's even higher, it just went unnoticed)
    • 17% of children ages 2-5 years meet diagnostic criteria for "mental health problems". TWO TO FIVE YEAR OLDS!!
    • Canada's youth suicide rate is the third highest in the industrialized world (did you know that depression and suicidal ideation is associated in some cases with low cholesterol and zinc deficiency? Yes. True)

    Are you shaking your head?? You are certainly not alone if your child is among those who are struggling.

76% families surveyed by the CMHA indicated it was very or extremely difficult to know where to find help.

Well here's my message - The place to start helping your kids is in your kitchen. In your very own home. You can start NOW.

MIght you need more support? Yes.

Might you need medication? Maybe.

Might you need more timely access to doctors? Yes.

Might you need access to social workers? Yes.

Is mental illness a complex, multifaceted issue? Yes.

But I heard not even a whisper about the importance of nutrition to mental health…. all week. Not a whisper. Even though we know that food matters to our emotional and mental wellbeing. You can read about that in the references below if you’re not yet convinced.

I suggest you start in your kitchen because it is right there in front of you.

Here are my top 5 nutritional strategies for mental stability:

  • Relieve constipation. If your child is not pooping every single day, preferably twice, this needs attention.
  • Assess and improve sleep. A school aged child needs 9-11 hours of quality sleep. Sleep disturbances need to be dealt with so the brain and hormones can reset. This involves getting in enough brain nutrients and amino acids and paying close attention to strategy #3.
  • Eat for blood sugar balance. This means more fibre, more protein, healthy fats, and consistent eating throughout the day. Is your kid too picky, making this a problem? I get it. But it's contributing to their behaviour issues and needs to be dealt with.
  • Optimize nutritional intake of protein & minerals while reducing sugar, additives, refined carbs. Again, the pickiness. I get it. Let's talk.
  • Generally reduce exposure to environmental chemicals. Don't underestimate this. Kids who struggle with self regulation also often struggle with detoxification. Taking steps to live "clean and green" is more critical than you might expect

Yes, there’s more. And you can browse my blog for more. But this is where to start.

If you want to know more about why these became my top strategies  or exactly how to address them, pick up a copy of my book or watch my FB live sessions. Or watch this training.

I’m here to make this do-able for you.

If there's something we need to raise awareness about it's that food matters - in very specific ways - to our kids learning, behaviour, and mental health and well being. It's time to take notice and talk strategy.

Related Posts:

What Causes Picky Eating

Six Ways To Improve Digestion in Your Kids

Three Tips For Relieving Constipation In A Child

Managing Nutritional Contributors To Mood And Behaviour



Zinc, magnesium and NMDA receptor alterations in the hippocampus of suicide victims

Zinc and depression. An update

Clinical application of low serum cholesterol as an indicator for suicide risk in major depression

Cholesterol concentrations in violent and non-violent women suicide attempters

Looking for more info on Nutritional Psychiatry? Watch this and take a look at this

Prenatal and early childhood nutrition can play a preventive role in the development of mental illness

Dietary Patterns Matter To Mental Health

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