Kate Middleton & Youth Mental Health

Kudos to Duchess Catherine of Cambridge, nee Kate Middleton! Today she pulled off her stint as guest editor of the UK’s Huffington Post and she did so with total grace, dignity, and purpose. Her mission: mental health in our youth. Way to go, Kate!

Displaying a clear knowledge on the subject area, Kate brought the public spotlight that follows her every move and style decision firmly on a topic long needing an address. It’s just one more reason she’s a role model to many. Reaching a youthful audience and also an audience of young, new parents much like herself, Kate shed light on the issues surrounding bullying and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and how children face coping and finding resiliency in ways that most children cannot fathom yet. Mental health in any regard in spite of age remains crucial to our society in general. However, even more so in children. How we teach children today to cope with situations and issues sets the very foundation for how they will cope as they mature. These are our future parents, leaders, and role models. What example do we want them to take with them?

Yes, it’s true, I’ve always admired Kate. Nonetheless, I believe in her cause so strongly for several reasons. First of all, I am near her age. Second of all, I am considering starting my family with my new husband. Third of all, I highly value the wonderful and blessed childhood I shared with my close family. At the same time, I know bullying and how it can affect any child. For years I was bullied and intimidated by other classmates and peers. Most of the time, I was told to suck it up and to just ignore the bullying. There were days I came home from my school days in total tears, humiliated and deeply hurt by the cruel words children can relay. Of course, I questioned why this was happening and didn’t understand it. Being ostracized and put down hurts. Years later when I look back at what started the bullying, I can now say I feel pride in myself for what I did that led to some initial bullying and proud of myself for one thing: I never changed who I was inside, despite feeling horribly low. I went out of my way to help a child who was being picked on for her shyness and found the best friend a young girl could have. I was lucky enough to have the backing of a very loving family, a family that encouraged me to believe in myself. I cannot imagine what children in today’s world with social media, texting, and cell phones go through. Everything is instant and spread to such an extent. That is even more so why mental health in our youth finds its importance relevant today.

At the age of 34, I graduated with my bachelors of science in Psychology after returning to school strictly online at the age of 30. Understanding how people behave and interact and our basic human needs always intrigued me. It’s why I chose the field versus social work. We use psychology every day. The old argument of nature vs. nurture still is debated. Of course, we are who we are in our biological make up. That is, indeed, our nature. However, more and more studies show that ACEs greatly impact who we become, how we learn to cope with situations, and where we can end up as well as the chance of us repeating behaviors witnessed in our youth. We are products of our nurturing. This includes our homes, our friends, our adult role models, our peers, our teachers, etc. It’s so true that finding help in times of need is a sign of strength and not weakness. We show courage in admitting we don’t have the answers and instead choose not to lie but to seek the truth. Our youth need us.

Another reason I feel so strongly is a history of working with youth in crisis in my life. From social service work in child welfare, to the program SafeCare Colorado in the last year. My previous occupation was a parent support educator with college certification in Family Development for the SafeCare Colorado program. SafeCare arrived in Colorado in 2013 as a result of Governor Hickenlooper’s pleas for the prevention of child abuse in our state’s legislature. Previously in existence since the 1970s, SafeCare found large success in California and Oklahoma in the 1980s, condensing from 12 topics to the 3 found in the program today. It strives to prevent child abuse and neglect and improve the bond between parent and child, allowing families to be the strongest they can be and inspire children to feel loved and nurtured. A healthy existence both mentally and physically is the key to SafeCare.

Conducting home visits once a week over the course of about 3 to 4 months, I worked with caregivers in a partnership role while looking and working through the 3 modules: home safety, child health, and parent-child interaction. It’s amazing to hear young parents with babies stating they cannot play or interact with a baby because it’s simply a baby. That baby is alert and in need of our attention from day one. We can show them through looking, touching, talking, smiling, and imitation that they are worthy of love and attention and help them develop along the way. With home safety we evaluated hazards in the home and worked to eliminate or reduce them. No home can be 100% safe. That’s why supervision is crucial still. Child health helps parents determine if something is an emergency, or if they can call their doctor or nurse, or if they can just treat at home, along with how to treat at home and what to keep an eye on. It encourages watching over and tracking symptoms from the common cold to failure to thrive and major injuries. Parent-child interaction works on creating structure, routine, consistency, and an establishment of rules in the home that lead to consequences for behaviors both positive and negative. It also looks at reducing negative child behaviors and reducing overall stress in the home while increasing age-appropriate bonding. We can see how all these skills enhance a child’s overall wellbeing. The program is free of charge and provides incentives to parents in need too. There were things I learned in the trainings that astounded even me as I never considered them before while in child welfare with all its training.

Kate believes in the same causes and her attention today as the guest editor of the Huffington Post is impressive. I feel I could sit down and write her a very nice letter letting her know how much I appreciate her efforts. Like Kate, I know that I will do whatever I can for my child to feel loved, assured, and content. If they should seek help with coping and resiliency or with processing ACEs, they will find full support from me. I want any child of mine to know they are valued and cared for. They deserve a firm foundation for their psychological welfare as well as their physical. Let’s all join the effort to help raise awareness of strong mental health in our youth. Who’s with me?

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