Osaka YMCA
International School

Mental Health is Real and It’s Time to Start Addressing It

mental health awareness week
Picture of Thomas Bell

Thomas Bell

Mr. Tom has been working in the mental health field for fifteen years both in schools and in the community. He is a father of two and is happily married to his also counselor wife, Ms. Amy Pothong. He enjoys reading and drinking coffee when his children let him.

For Mental Health Awareness Week, our school counselor, Tom Bell, writes about mental health at home between parents and students. It is vital that parents and students communicate with each other about how they are doing mentally. Here are some ways to accomplish this conversation.

Mental Health is Real and It’s Time to Start Addressing It


If you have a problem, you should deal with it yourself.

Don’t burden others with your problems.

I was depressed once and I got through it. You should too.

Any of those statements sound familiar to you? You might be surprised how many students have come across these statements about mental health in their life whether it be from peer groups, family, or the internet. It reminds me of an ostrich sticking its head in the sand. By ignoring the problem, it ceases to exist, right?

By continuing to ignore the mental health of our children we are failing them as parents and caretakers. Bringing these issues into the light and dealing with them with the respect and courtesy afforded to anyone who suffers, be it a mental illness or physical one, should be a top priority for parents and schools.

Many times these problems begin in puberty, a time of transition for many students in which their biology, social life, feelings, and ideas of personal freedom change rapidly. Ironically, this is when they need the support of parents and friends the most, but are least likely to receive it. At the very least, we should be striving to ensure that everyone has at least one person that they can talk to about the critical issues in their lives. It’s the children that don’t have a person to support them who we need to worry about.

Let’s go over some simple ways to help our students/children with their mental health.

Don’t underestimate the power of physical touch. Give someone you love a hug. This simple display of love helps build children’s resilience and sense of belonging, both of which are key for promoting health and wellness in the teenage years (Education Development Center).

Listen to them. How many problems could be solved by simply allowing others to be heard? Try it out with your child tonight. No ‘yes, buts…’, just listen. This doesn’t mean you are agreeing with them, it’s merely making sure they feel heard.

Finally, take care of yourself. You are the most important person in your child’s life, so go out and get a massage, have a coffee with a friend, or even just take two minutes to take a deep breath. These small things add up and you might be surprised at the big impact they will have. Your child will probably notice too.













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