My work leads to me consider the mental health of children on a daily basis.
And then I consider - what is good mental health?
At the moment - due to random circumstances and the outbreak of Covid-19, my son is stuck at home without any face to face contact with his friends.
Now I say face to face, because he actually interacts with his friends constantly via his phone or his Playstation.
He still has school work, but that is done with me and in a much more relaxed environment than a school classroom, so in all, he is much more relaxed and at ease with the situation and is probably much more mentally healthy than 'usual'.
However, the thing with children, in particular pre teens & teens is that their emotional swings are out of their control.
Hormonal swings and emotional imbalances are part and parcel of adolescence and growing up - therefore a hormone surge can instantly take the seemingly happy relaxed teen into a frustrated unhappy teen in the blink of an eye.
I have seen it happen.
Without the keen parental eye, teenage depression can grow and become full force very quickly.
Teenage mental health is a constant swing between 'all is good' to 'anger and frustration'. One social media post, one text message (or lack there of) can be all it takes.
And so, as wise, alert parents, teachers & carers, it is up to us to ensure that there is constant interaction within the household.
A regular 'check in' on the mood and you can even ask the direct question - 'Are you happy?'
Myself and my son have been having a little check in at the end of each day also to just check how the emotions are - we have good days and bad days but tomorrow is always a new day.
At the first sign of an emotional drop or a hormone surge, get you child doing something different - make their own lunch, hang out the laundry with you, go for a walk, get out in the garden, wrestle (probably best for Mums of boys!), yoga, meditate - but anything that reminds the child that they have you to turn to and that their emotions are normal and natural.
Eat meals together so you can share this bizarre experience together.
Keep aware of each other and also have patience with each other.
Ensure you are present and available so you can keep on top of your child's good mental health.