From the Team at Suicide Prevention Pathways
Ahead of Queensland Mental Health Week (9-17 October) and the Walk For Awareness presented by Tessa Group, we worked with the team at Suicide Prevention Pathways to share their learnings and insights to encourage positive mental health in your family.
Family life is always so much better when everyone is happy, right? Yet this day and age is full of so many questionable influences and distractions. Some days work out better than others which can put a strain on the mental health of the entire family. When helping clients navigate this modern-day minefield, the coaches and mentors at Suicide Prevention Pathways often refer to recommendations made by Dr Justin Coulson from Happyfamilies.com.au. According to Dr Coulson, there are several things we can do to improve family mental health. To help out on those tough days, here are some ideas:
Have Family Dinners
Family dinnertime might be the single best thing we can do as a family. It is the most reliable time of the day to connect with our loved ones, and connection leads to greater happiness. Use this time to ask each other what you enjoyed most about the day, what was interesting, and maybe something that wasn’t so great. Knowing what is going on in each other lives is essential to then recognise the early signs that one of you may be struggling.
Introduce the practice of gratitude into everyone’s daily schedule. For example, ask your kids (and yourselves) each night before bed “what is one thing that you were grateful for today?” It can be as simple as feeling the sun shine on your face! The benefits of gratitude in our daily lives is limitless!
Don’t reprimand – Understand
When our children are acting out, our default response is to get angry and frustrated. Usually, children behave badly because of an unmet need; hunger, feeling tired or stressed, etc. The whole family can benefit when we try to understand exactly what the problem is and then problem solve ‘with’ the child.
Focus on the Moment
When your child is talking to you, give them ALL your attention – be emotionally and mentally present, it really does mean the world to them!
Less Correction and Direction
Instead of barking directions and telling our kids what they’ve done wrong all the time, try calmly asking “what do you need to do next?”, then smile and wait. By encouraging and supporting autonomy, they think more proactively and the whole family benefits.
Focus on ‘We-Time’
Studies show that getting more ‘We-Time’ is incredibly beneficial to family mental health. When we schedule space each day for time together our relationships are strengthened, and our family is happier. To super- charge the benefits, try it ‘device-free’ for an hour or a day – a digital detox can be magic and just what everyone needs! And bonus points if it is outside connecting with nature!
Less Stress, More Sleep
Surveys often show that kids wish their parents were less tired and less stressed. More sleep and less stress can definitely help make our families happier, but it can be a big ask. Try dropping that extra commitment or going to bed earlier instead of mindlessly watching TV or surfing on the web – your mind and body will love you for it, and so will your kids.
Grown-ups – Find your JOY
When parents are happy, children absorb these ‘good vibes’, often without even noticing it. Invest time in doing something regularly that opens your heart! It’s often easiest to think about what might bring us joy when we remember times we’ve been joyful before. Importantly, don’t be afraid to try something new, notice when you feel recharged, and pursue your passion. The whole family will benefit from it!
Guided by lived experience at both governance and operational levels Suicide Prevention Pathways Inc. (SPP) specialises in delivering services and programs to raise awareness of suicide in our communities through individualised coaching, mentoring, training, and education. This year, the Suicide Prevention Pathways team will be onsite at the Walk For Awareness Presented by Tessa Group as one of the Foundation’s key charity partners. You can register your family for the event here: https://www.walkforawareness.org.au/