Families - Mental Wellness
The following information is designed with you, your family's primary caregiver, in mind. The Indian Health Service (IHS) Head Start Program looks forward to being your family's partner in health. Together, we can improve the health of our children and families -- today and in the future.
We want our American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children to grow up in families and communities that support mental wellness, social-emotional development and healthy relationships. Mentally well children feel good about themselves and their abilities. As they grow, they are better able to understand others and express their thoughts, feelings and needs.
Here are a few things you can do to contribute to your children's mental wellness:
- Talk and listen to your child every day.
- Praise your child. Say "yes" and "I love you" more than you say "no" and "don't."
- Avoid statements that may shame or ridicule.
- Set aside one-on-one time with your child as often as possible.
- Get involved at your child's school.
- Read with your child every day.
- Play with and sing to your child.
- Provide an environment that ensures your child feels safe and secure anywhere.
- Ask your child to talk to you about his or her thoughts and feelings.
- Set firm (but not harsh) limits on behavior.
Mental Wellness Tips and Resources for Head Start Families:
A Word about FASD
Sadly, AI/AN communities experience some of the highest rates of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) in the United States. In some areas, such as Alaska, the incidence of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is nearly four times higher in AI/ANs than within the general US population.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is a term that describes the range of physical and mental disabilities that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol while pregnant. The disorders, which include FAS and other alcohol-related birth defects, can affect a child's appearance, physical health, mental health, learning, behavior, growth and development. There is no cure for any of these lifelong disorders. The good news is that these disorders can be entirely prevented if a mother avoids alcohol during her pregnancy.
Check out these resources and links to learn more about FASDs:
A Word about Methamphetamines
The scourge of methamphetamine addiction continues to ravage AI/AN communities and families. Every day, children are exposed to the horrors of life with parents and family members addicted to "meth." These children are at greater risk for neglect, physical and sexual abuse and emotional trauma. They're also in danger living in households where drugs and the harmful chemicals used to produce meth are present. Babies exposed to meth before birth and via their mother's breast milk often suffer severe, lifelong damage. Many of these young victims of methamphetamine must be placed in foster care.
Check out these links to find help and information about methamphetamine addiction:
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