Dealing with negative emotions is a learned exercise, one that needs to be practiced. The video “I had a black dog, his name was depression” allows children to learn about mental illness in an easy and low-stress setting. “Just like a real dog, it needs to be embraced, understood, taught new tricks, and ultimately brought to heel.”3 The video opens up the world of mental health for them in a way that is accessible. It can be a visual aid in understanding that they are not alone in feeling this way, and that it does get better with help.
In schools, children are taught about the importance of taking care of their health. Most programs offer courses on nutrition, cooking, and offer exercise in gym class; what our children are missing are the health services that focus on the brain. A child’s brain is a sponge; what better time to teach children about the importance of both physical health and mental health than in school.
“One in ten young people between the age of 5 and 16 suffer from a diagnosed mental health problem.”1 Encourage children to “ask themselves how they feel and discuss it with someone nearby.”1 Many children may not know of depression, or that term is not what they understand the feeling as, they simply “experience sadness, difficulty concentrating, and loss of interest.”2
A parents “knowledge and validation is a powerful healer”3 when it comes to mental health. The World Health Organization created the “I had a back dog, his name was depression” video; they also have other chapters of the story for certain viewers, including parents and caregivers.
View the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiCrniLQGYc