SSM Psychologist: Start conversations about mental health with children early

MADISON, Wis. — Kids are often used to getting the annual physical or normal checkup, but it’s not common that they understand the health of mind, and the body, go hand in hand.

SSM Health Psychologist Kathleen Hipke says it’s important that this conversation begins sooner rather than later.

“I Think that the earlier we can be talking about mental health, the more we’re modeling for kids that it’s just part of health,” says Hipke. “Kids are used to going to the doctor every year for a checkup of their bodies, and one of the things we like to say is that your mind and body are connected. So, we want to be able to be checking in on the health of both. So, the earlier we’re talking about mental health concerns, and also just mental health wellness, I think it’s a really important step in helping kids take care of their whole selves.”

Hipke says these conversations are especially important as children go through Puberty, when the risk for anxiety and other mental health concerns are higher. She also says that though most kids have been resilient through the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a smaller group of children who have been affected by isolation, and may need more attention as more things continue to open.

Our time for kids: recipe for health team is asking what you want to hear about. Let us know what health topics you’re interested in, or share your family’s health story with us, online at ssmhealth.com/timeforkids.