Caring for the mental health and wellness of our children is an ongoing priority at any time, but has become of paramount concern to physicians and others during the pandemic.
A real worry is that family stress, isolation, and all that those imply, has the potential for lasting impact on young lives.
BC physicians through Doctors of BC are working hard to mitigate that risk with ongoing advocacy and activities, including a large public awareness campaign called ‘Feelings First’ – a 13-week social media initiative which launches today, May 17th.
What it’s about?
The Feelings First campaign was developed by over 40 organizations as part of a BC Healthy Child Development Alliance. The goal was to create messaging for caregivers and parents of children 0-5 to highlight the importance of early social emotional development (SED) as a key influence on a child’s healthy future. The messages were then shaped into a campaign to be shared as widely as possible.
Why it’s important
Dr Linda Uyeda was integrally involved in the creation of the campaign through her ongoing involvement in the Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Community of Practice which includes over 270 physician members.
A family physician who works with youth, and as a mental health and parenting educator, Uyeda expanded her medical education after the birth of her first child – exploring neuroscience, parenting, trauma, and attachment as they related to human development. She was fascinated by what she found.
“Longitudinal research informs us that our earliest experiences in relationships can shape the quality of our interpersonal interactions decades down the road,” she states. “When a child feels seen and supported early on, their core beliefs are positively shaped and can give rise to an inner voice that says, ‘I’m worthy of love, attention, and being treated well’. Conversely, a negative core belief can lead to feelings of unworthiness and shame. These beliefs guide our behaviours and ultimately determine how we approach all relationships.”
The campaign focuses on 13 short and engaging messages expanding on concepts such as ‘Be present, not perfect’, ‘It feels good to talk about feelings’, and ‘Caring for yourself is caring for your child’. Practical ideas are provided on what parents and caregivers can do and say to foster trust and resilience, and to nurture positive relationships where their child is free to be themselves and feels supported during times of adversity.
Engaging as physicians, patients, and families
Dr Uyeda encourages physicians and others to engage with the campaign and to share the messages with colleagues and family.
“As these messages are rolled out over the coming weeks, your patients, family, or friends may have questions about them and this may create opportunities for meaningful discussion - or you may want to reflect on your own childhood experiences and what this means for you today. Although these messages were created with young children in mind, they are universal and can help us nurture the type of relationships that buffer us all through difficult times.”
Learn more about the campaign at www.feelingsfirst.ca or share through the campaign’s social media channels: